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Reviews of The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni

The Puzzle Master

A Novel

by Danielle Trussoni

The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni X
The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni
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  • Published:
    Jun 2023, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Book Summary

Reality and the supernatural collide when an expert puzzle maker is thrust into an ancient mystery—one with explosive consequences for the fate of humanity—in this suspenseful thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Angelology

All the world is a puzzle, and Mike Brink—a celebrated and ingenious puzzle constructor—understands its patterns like no one else. Once a promising Midwestern football star, Brink was transformed by a traumatic brain injury that caused a rare medical condition: acquired savant syndrome. The injury left him with a mental superpower—he can solve puzzles in ways ordinary people can't. But it also left him deeply isolated, unable to fully connect with other people.

Everything changes after Brink meets Jess Price, a woman serving thirty years in prison for murder who hasn't spoken a word since her arrest five years before. When Price draws a perplexing puzzle, her psychiatrist believes it will explain her crime and calls Brink to solve it. What begins as a desire to crack an alluring cipher quickly morphs into an obsession with Price herself. She soon reveals that there is something more urgent, and more dangerous, behind her silence, thrusting Brink into a hunt for the truth.

The quest takes Brink through a series of interlocking enigmas, but the heart of the mystery is the God Puzzle, a cryptic ancient prayer circle created by the thirteenth-century Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia. As Brink navigates a maze of clues, and his emotional entanglement with Price becomes more intense, he realizes that there are powerful forces at work that he cannot escape.

Ranging from an upstate New York women's prison to nineteenth-century Prague to the secret rooms of the Pierpont Morgan Library, The Puzzle Master is a tantalizing, addictive thriller in which humankind, technology, and the future of the universe itself are at stake.

The Puzzle Master

December 24, 1909

Paris, France

By the time you read this, I will have caused much sorrow, and for that I beg your forgiveness. As you know, my child, I am a haunted man, and while the toll has been steep, I have at last made peace with my demons. I do not write this as an excuse for what I have done. I know too well that there is no forgiveness for it—not in the eyes of God or man. But rather, I write this account of my discovery out of necessity. It is my last chance to record the incredible events, the terrible and wonderful events, that changed my life and will, if you venture into the mysteries I am about to relate, change yours, as well.

What, you ask, is responsible for such torment? I will tell you, but take heed: Once you know the truth, it is not easily forgotten. It has haunted me every minute of every day. There was no question of ignoring it. I was drawn to its mystery like a moth circling a flame—In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni. ...

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Brink soon realizes that Moses is not the only one following Price's case carefully, and that other, powerful forces are eager to solve the puzzle for their own reasons. His increasingly dangerous quest takes him deep into a centuries-old mystery, one with connections to both Jewish mysticism and the modern-day technocratic elite. Trussoni, whose previous novels include a duology about angels, employs some supernatural elements, which complement the thriller plot. Readers who usually eschew the fantastical, however, will find the novel well-grounded in the real world; Trussoni's research is adeptly woven throughout, and the story develops through a variety of interconnected narratives, with diaries and archival letters appearing alongside Brink's present odyssey...continued

Full Review Members Only (513 words)

(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Media Reviews

The Minneapolis Star Tribune
his immersive, brilliant book is a labyrinth of ciphers, cryptograms, logic puzzles, word puzzles, and a doozy of a conspiracy. Wouldn't you like to experience a book so singular?

The New York Times
The many irresistible elements in Danielle Trussoni's The Puzzle Master include Mike Brink, a preternaturally brilliant man billed as 'the most talented puzzleist in the world.'

A surefire hit ... [The Puzzle Master] is an ambitious story, expertly told... . A sequel, The Puzzle Box, is in the works, and it can't come soon enough.

Kirkus Reviews
[Trussoni] is at the top of her game in involving the reader in the puzzle-solving process, making the most of historic settings, including the Pierpont Morgan Library, and making the book's Da Vinci Code–like trappings pay off. The Kabbalah meets the New York Times crossword in a brainy thriller.

Library Journal
This page-turner incorporates motifs of religion, security, meaningfulness, and loss into a mystical narrative that traverses different centuries focused on the same puzzle quest. This is a literary Da Vinci Code—like title that readers of quest-based thrillers and mysteries alike will enjoy.

Publishers Weekly
Trussoni blends the cerebral and the supernatural in this impressive thriller.... Fans of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon novels would do well to pick this up.

Author Blurb Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
The Puzzle Master is an ingenious literary thriller that combines everything I want in a book: an absolutely blistering Russian nesting doll of fascinating stories that dismantle some of the most deeply engrained ideas about good, evil, and the origins of humankind. In short: The Puzzle Master = (The Da Vinci Code + The Silent Patient + sprinkle of Stephen King) × gorgeous writing.

Author Blurb Chris Pavone, author of Two Nights in Lisbon
An absolute gem of suspense, with a wholly original and unforgettable protagonist, a propulsive plot with diabolic twists, and pure reading pleasure on every page. I loved it.

Author Blurb Douglas Preston, co-author of Bloodless and The Cabinet of Curiosities
The Puzzle Master is one of the most insanely compelling novels I've read in ages. This story has all the elements I love—dark histories, gothic settings, murder, vivid characters, and a twisty, unpredictable plot. I am normally a jaded reader, but I could not put down this book... . Highly, highly recommended.

Author Blurb Janelle Brown, author of Pretty Things
The Puzzle Master is a riveting, beautifully layered, fast-paced page-turner. You'll want to clear your calendar for this one.

Author Blurb Justin Cronin, author of The Passage Trilogy
Utterly absorbing ... The 'master' of the title isn't the only master here. The word applies equally to the author of this fabulous novel.

Author Blurb Steve Berry, author of The Last Kingdom
My kind of thriller.

Reader Reviews


The puzzle master book ?? real review
Dreams, rituals, codes, riddles, porcelain dolls, prayer circles, a dual gendered god, the God puzzle, and before you know it the future of the universe and mankind is at stake. I haven’t finished - an extraordinary superpower, a maze of clues, ...   Read More
prem singh yadav

The Puzzle Master A Novel
This novel has everything and the sky's the cut-off, the pages continue to fly by in Trusoni's capable, gifted hands: - New York Times hit creator David Baldacci The entire world is a riddle, and Mike Edge - an acclaimed and shrewd riddle creator ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Acquired Savant Syndrome

Photograph from above showing arms and hands of pianist playing piano with sheet music In Danielle Trussoni's The Puzzle Master, protagonist Mike Brink was once on his way to a promising football career until an injury fundamentally changed the way his brain worked, leading him away from the gridiron and into MIT. As Trussoni mentions in a brief author's note, Brink's diagnosis—acquired savant syndrome—is a real, albeit rare, phenomenon.

According to the Brain Injury Law Center, the condition, which has also been described as "prodigious savant" or "accidental genius," involves "the presentation of (often extraordinary) scholarly skills that can emerge after a non-disabled individual suffers a traumatic brain injury or illness." This is believed to result from the brain's right hemisphere over-compensating ...

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