An ivy league murder, a mysterious coded manuscript, and the secrets of a Renaissance prince collide memorably in The Rule of Four -- a brilliant work of fiction that weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery.
It's Easter at Princeton. Seniors are scrambling to finish their theses. And two students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, are a hair's breadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili--a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman, a work that has baffled scholars since its publication in 1499. For Tom, their research has been a link to his family's past -- and an obstacle to the woman he loves. For Paul, it has become an obsession, the very reason for living. But as their deadline looms, research has stalled -- until a long-lost diary surfaces with a vital clue. And when a fellow researcher is murdered just hours later, Tom and Paul realize that they are not the first to glimpse the Hypnerotomachia 's secrets.
Suddenly the stakes are raised, and as the two friends sift through the codes and riddles at the heart of the text, they are beginnning to see the manuscript in a new light--not simply as a story of faith, eroticism and pedantry, but as a bizarre, coded mathematical maze. And as they come closer and closer to deciphering the final puzzle of a book that has shattered careers, friendships and families, they know that their own lives are in mortal danger. Because at least one person has been killed for knowing too much. And they know even more.
From the streets of fifteenth-century Rome to the rarified realm of the Ivy League, from a shocking 500 year-old murder scene to the drama of a young man's coming of age, The Rule of Four takes us on an entertaining, illuminating tour of history--as it builds to a pinnacle of nearly unbearable suspense.
Caldwell and Thomason have placed their first book in territory known well to them - Princeton University (Caldwell graduated from there in 1998 and Thomason from Harvard, in the same year). One critic describes The Rule of Four as 'Dan Brown by way of Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco'. The comparison to Dan Brown is, presumably, to do with the subject matter - a mysterious coded manuscript; however, the writing style and pacing is much slower here. The Rule of Four received substantial publicity when released in hardcover and some good media reviews, but the reader reviews have been less than stellar.
Booklist - Keir Graff
...an impressive debut, a coming-of-age novel in the guise of a thriller, packed with history (real and invented) and intellectual excitement. But despite their command of language and arcana, the book occasionally betrays its origins as a post-college project.
Starred Review. Think Dan Brown by way of Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco.... There are murders, romances, dangers and detection, and by the end the heroes are in a race not only to solve the puzzle, but also to stay alive. Readers might be tempted to buy their own copy of the Hypnerotomachia and have a go at the puzzle.
Starred Review. An astonishingly good debut.... Academic evil stalks the campus and no one is safe.... Intricate, erudite, and intensely pleasureable.
Caldwell and Thomason have created a stunning first novel; a perfect blend of suspense and a sensitive coming of age story. If Scott Fitzgerald, Umberto Eco, and Dan Brown teamed up to write a novel, the result would be The Rule of Four. An extraordinary and brilliant accomplishment - a must read.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by richie i dislike this book This book has to much going on in it............... I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE
Rated of 5
by mdp Shadow of the Wind meets the DaVinci Code If you're in between books, and want a nice, light read, The Rule of Four is it. Well written, not too deep, it's a nice story of love between friends, love between parents/children, and what connects them. I enjoyed it because it didn't demand too... Read More
Rated of 5
by Elle Mac Lacks Four= plot, character, pace and writing. This book was compared on the jacket to The Da Vinci Code , The Name of the Rose and The Secret History. All I can say is; Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco must be furious: and I never thought I'd say this, but come back, Dan Brown, all is forgiven.... Read More
Rated of 5
by liezle waste of time I hate those misleading critics! I had a neighbor who kept nagging me to finish this book because it was supposed to be the greatest book he ever read. Novels that get me hooked takes me about two or three days to read. I had been reading this... Read More
Rated of 5
by Vance Don't believe the Hype This is absolutely one of the most boring, ham-handed, pretentious books I've ever read. While some praise the authors' attention to detail, I call it a fascination with trivia. Yes, this is written by TWO people. When was the last time you read a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Justin A decent read, with a misleading book jacket. This book could best be summarized as the result of Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) attempting to write a guide to college life at Princeton, while occasionally mentioning a mysterious ancient encoded document just enough to serve as the proverbial... Read More
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