After the mindf–k that was “Eating Animals,” I needed a trashy novel to clear the brain a bit.  Enter Brad Meltzer. Meltzer has written a number of thriller type books, often with a political/ government/ D.C. focus.  “Zero Game” and “First Counsel” were easy and in fact great reads.  Perfect for car rides or a day at the beach. However, his last book, “The Book of Fate,” was an outright theft of “The Davinci Code” style, set in Washington, and with a Masonic background, and it was rushed out before Dan Brown’s book, “The Lost Symbol,” which had the same topic. But I gave Meltzer the benefit of the doubt when I picked up “The Inner Circle,” hoping he would come back to his winning ways.

Fail. “The Inner Circle” was indeed a page turner, but I spent most of it hoping I had reached the last page. The main character was at best described as simpering and his girlfriend was beyond annoying. I kept hoping she would be the next victim. That she was named Clementine and referred to as “Clemmi” only made it worse. Worse still?  It ended with no ending, meaning there will be sequels. Which I want my friends to remind me not to buy.

I like a good page turner. The equivalent of a “Law & Order” or “CSI” TV episode. Chewing gum for the brain. Old school John Grisham perfected the genre. Richard North Patterson wrote a handful of solid political thrillers. Even the first few Alex Cross books by James Patterson were excellent. (James Patterson has since turned into an emperor of publishing and you can’t actually be sure he is still writing the books, given he releases like 20 a year. I think he’s now more of a “producer” than an author.)   I used to read old Agatha Christie novels, also very well done and classic thrillers. And I tried a few Clancy books (page-turners, yes, but at an average of 13,531 pages each, they require a time commitment longer than some marriages).

Reading page-turners such as these is akin to clearing the cache on a internet browser. They tend to refocus the mind and clear out some of the stuff that has been clogging up the tubes. But I might skip this particular one, if I were you.

On to “Cleopatra.”