The Four Books of Etretat by Matt Chatelain
Book Two of Four of the Sirenne Saga
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (293 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
THE SECRET OF IMMORTALITY REVEALED
In 'The Caves of Etretat', Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne was thrust into a quest for answers in the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc. Together with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, Sirenne unearthed puzzles, codes and historical mysteries, exposing a secret war for control of a cave fortress in Etretat's chalk cliffs.
In Book Two, 'The Four Books of Etretat', Sirenne discovers the reason for the hidden war: the secret of immortality. The Abbey, a thousand-year old organization, dedicated to chasing the oldest immortal on earth, known as the Greyman, has given Sirenne control of the caves and its secrets, apparently preparing him for a confrontation with the Greyman. Unfortunately, the serial killer who killed Sirenne's father, Weissmuller, has discovered this knowledge before Sirenne. Now an immortal and constantly dogging Sirenne's steps, Weissmuller seems to be playing a game of his own.
'The Four Books of Etretat' is the second in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.
THE SAGA CONTINUES
Prepare to leave everything you thought you knew behind.
When I read the first book in the series, The Caves of Etretat, I thought I had a pretty decent understanding of the caves and the mystery surrounding them. However, Mr. Chatelain proceeded to blow my mind in The Four Books of Etretat, the second installment in the series. I discovered the real treasure of the caves is not mere gold and jewels, but something infinitely more valuable, the secret of immortality. Not only that, but the impact that the caves have had on human history goes far beyond what Paul Sirenne and his companions originally thought. As Paul delves further into the mystery surrounding the caves, he uncovers a history filled with half-truths and misdirection spanning thousands of years. Are Paul and his team smart enough to uncover the truth, and will they be able to handle the truth once they find it?
In this book, Paul, the self proclaimed “armchair detective,” is pushed even further out of his comfort zone. His intelligence is continually put to the test by complex codes and puzzles that sometimes raise more questions than answers, but Paul has always been comfortable thinking and puzzling things through. However, Paul now finds himself in the unlikely position of leading an entire organization of people in order to protect the caves and the secret of immortality from those who would misuse it. I have no doubt that Paul is up to the challenge.
One of the things I liked most about Paul in the first book was that he is an ordinary man called to do extraordinary things. In The Four Books of Etretat, Paul undergoes some physical and mental changes brought on by the nature of the caves. Paul is no longer quite as “ordinary.” I was a little worried that Paul’s new abilities would alter him in ways that would make him less endearing. However, I was very pleased to find that while Paul grows and changes quite a bit, he is still a good man at heart.
Paul’s relationship with Raymonde also continues to develop in this book. Their connection becomes even stronger as they both are changed by the caves. I won’t spoil the story by revealing the nature of their changes. However, I will say that Raymonde’s new abilities compliment Paul’s perfectly. I can’t help but wonder how they developed different abilities when they were both affected by the secret of the caves. Their different abilities seem too well planned out to be random chance. Was the reason genetic, or something else? I also look forward to seeing how the caves will affect Paul’s other friends.
O’Flanahan is still my favorite secondary character. As in the first book, his brash personality sets off Paul’s more introspective one very well. One of the things I like most about O’Flanahan is that he dares to say and do things that other people are probably thinking, but don’t act on. His outbursts of frustration and excitement breathe a bit of humor into some very serious situations. The scene of him gulping in air in front of an air vent was particularly memorable.
I don’t think the pacing was as well done in this book as it was in the first. While I did find the research and theories presented to be very interesting and thought provoking, the first half of the book is a bit slow at times, and there isn’t much action to break that up. However my patience was definitely rewarded. The pacing really picks up during the last half of the story. Everything comes together in a very intense climax that had me on the edge of my seat worrying about the safety of characters I’ve come to care about.
A review of The Four Books of Etretat wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the sections containing Weissmuller’s reflections. Weissmuller is a devious man who has used the caves to attain immortality and is intent on reclaiming the caves by any means necessary. I found Weissmuller’s actions very chilling. I never ceased to be shocked by the casual descriptions of the carnage he leaves wherever he goes and his utter disregard for life. As if one meddling immortal wasn’t enough, Paul and his team learn that another immortal known as the Greyman is on the loose. The Greyman is still a mystery at this point, but my curiosity is certainly piqued.
Reading The Four Books of Etretat was certainly an experience. The characters are well developed, the mystery surrounding the caves is well organized, and the last half of the book is a whirlwind of suspense. Anyone wanting to read this book definitely needs to read The Caves of Etretat first. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for the next book in the series. The Four Books of Etretat is a conspiracy lover’s dream, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to ponder the question “what if?”