After I Dream

Before I Sleep

Cowboy Comes Home

Involuntary Daddy

A January Chill

Mistletoe Kisses

Snow in September

Under Suspicion

When I Wake

With Malice

The Crimson Code
by Rachel Lee
(Mira Books, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-778-3227-18
This recent installment of the Brotherhood series is an obvious attempt to capitalize on the success of The DaVinci Code. (It even has a similar title.) In this case, Rachel Lee also incorporates the latest trend in terrorism. Lee’s effort to combine mystery with religious implications falls flat. The resulting story is confusing, long, and unfocused.

The Crimson Code starts out with simultaneous worldwide bomb explosions of Catholic churches during Christmas Mass and of economic targets. All the economic targets are empty due to the holiday. Of course, the churches are full due to Christmas Mass. The worst terrorist event since 9/11 becomes known as “Black Christmas.” This time the entire world is affected.

Who is behind the attacks? Muslims, of course, are behind the attacks. But in this case, what only the reader knows is they targeted the economic locations alone. Due to the complexity of hitting multiple locations across the world at one time, the extremist organization hired outside help to implement the plan. However, the outside help included the church bombings to further their own cause.

While many countries investigate the perpetrators, the ones focused on in the book are the US government, the European Union government, the Muslim extremist, and Office 119. Both the US and EU governments are infiltrated by the enemy to hinder the investigation and to manipulate any retaliation. Office 119 is a United Nations organization which does not exist consisting of spies who are all officially dead. Renate Bachle, former German agent, and Lawton Caine, former US cop, head the Office 119 investigation into Black Christmas leading to the Brotherhood, an organization of rich powerful men dating back to the Knights Templar.

At the same time, a priest sent by the Vatican to Guatemala to find the Codex, a semi-precious gem pyramid holding hidden secrets that can destroy the church. During his time there, the village he lived in was attacked by guerillas. Now the priest has to find the Codex and lead the village people to safety through the jungle.

The Crimson Code is one of those books that you know in the end is going to all come together but in the meantime it’s very confusing. The book jumps back and forth between locations and story lines every couple pages adding to the confusion. And if all this jumping around wasn’t enough, additional snippets dating back to Moses and to Isaac Newton are included. The historical references and Vatican connection seemed to have been added only to make it fit the formula that worked so well for Dan Brown.

Also periodically a new character is introduced for the sole purpose of killing him/her. The reader meets a baker and learns about his son’s recent engagement and the plans for the wedding. Then BAM!, two pages later the guy is blown up. After the fifth new character whose personal life was obliterated, it got ridiculous.

This 475 page book could have been wrapped up much sooner. Too many story lines are tedious day to day activities. Several of the sections on the priest in Guatemala are spent walking around the jungle during a volcano eruption. One time a section with the head of the Muslim extremist group mostly involved him eating dinner alone. He learned a piece of information during that dinner to help his investigation, but the reader doesn’t need two to three pages on his meal.

Slugging through the confusing story lines and overly detailed writing is time consuming. Readers without the time or energy to devote should look for something else.

--Terry Lawrence

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