The Rule Of Four (2004) We meet Princeton senior Paul Harris the night before his thesis is due, an evening that generally involves nothing more dramatic than spell-check. But Paul's… 2004-05-11 Fiction Mystery and Thriller
Book Review

The Rule Of Four (2004)

EW's GRADE
C

Details Release Date: May 11, 2004; Writers: Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason; Genres: Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We meet Princeton senior Paul Harris the night before his thesis is due, an evening that generally involves nothing more dramatic than spell-check. But Paul's work sleuthing out hidden messages in the knotty, real-life Renaissance text Hypnerotomachia Poliphili draws his friends and mentors into murderous intrigue -- although, chief among the book's numerous faults, we don't learn why that should be until just before the climax. We are, however, treated to pedantic lectures on cryptography and 15th-century Florence, snatches of philosophy (''Time is the guy at the amusement park who paints shirts with an airbrush''), and a view of undergraduate life seemingly lifted from a boys' adventure story. Is it any wonder a novel that views literary interpretation as fancy codework should be strictly by the numbers?

Originally posted Apr 30, 2004 Published in issue #762-763 Apr 30, 2004 Order article reprints