The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni
Published by Random House
Publication date: June 13, 2023
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller, Vacation Reading
It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a book that I not only loved, but would recommend to everyone I know. The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni is a propulsive novel about a man with an extraordinary gift for puzzles, patterns, and all things numbers who’s pulled into unexpected drama when a prison inmate asks him to meet with her.
Mike Brink is a star high school athlete banking on a football scholarship when he is blindsided by a tackle. The resulting trauma to his brain leaves him with sudden acquired savant syndrome, a rare condition that means he now tests beyond genius level in mathematics. MIT calls and after graduating with honors he ignores employment offers from Google, the NSA, and others to stick with what he loves most, creating puzzles. He becomes known to fans worldwide as the Puzzle Master for his puzzles in the New York Times and in his highly sought after books.
Mike’s injury is not without cost. His emotional skills have shrunk as his logical capabilities expanded. He has a hard time with interpersonal relationships, finding himself unable to read physical cues and emotions. He keeps his world carefully regimented until he’s contacted by a psychiatrist at a New York State prison who says one of the prisoners wants to meet him. She was a rising star in the world of authors until she convicted for brutally murdering a friend. She offered no defense and has not spoken during her 5 years in prison.
What Jess Price shares with Mike when they meet is a cipher, the likes of which he’s never seen. It’s incomplete, but before Mike can get answers from Jess all access to her is cut off, launching The Puzzle Master into drama that encompasses an ancient prayer circle, a golem, porcelain dolls, a tech billionaire, and demons. All centered around something known as the God Puzzle.
This novel has it all. For those of us who love puzzles there is the lure of the kind of mind that can create them, that sees logical patterns everywhere. There is the dark side with a woman falsely imprisoned whose issues seem to go beyond this world. Add in ancient mysticism and a billionaire creating technology to gain immortality and it turns into a heady cocktail. One that Trussoni manages with the aplomb of a seasoned mixologist serving up tension, action, intrigue, and arcane knowledge in equal measure.
The comparisons between The DaVinci Code and The Puzzle Master have already begun and are not as flagrantly off-base as so much marketing often is. Both involve the menace of shadowy groups, clues, and the thrill of the chase and both are addictive reading. The Puzzle Master is a fabulous game itself—coming together perfectly, each clue leading to the next revelation to the next clue, until the final square is filled in in a deeply satisfying conclusion. Even better, the ending indicates this is just the beginning.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Random House in exchange for an honest review.*