More than a decade before The Da Vinci Code, first-time novelist Katherine Neville published The Eight, an erudite best-selling thriller about computer expert Cat Velis and the quest, spanning several centuries and continents, for a mysteriously powerful jewel-encrusted chess set. Neville’s preposterously overwrought sequel, The Fire, follows the adventures of Cat’s twentysomething daughter, Alexandra Solarin, who discovers her mom has gone missing from her cozy Colorado lodge. What is the meaning of a chess set stashed in the piano? And the cryptic message left on the answering machine? The frenetic plot careens through space and time — from Washington, D.C., to Russia to the Loire Valley to 19th-century Albania — in a portentous, pretentious code-cracking mash-up that makes Dan Brown look like a master of elegant restraint. C

The Fire
  • Book