Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review of The Thousand by Kevin Guilfoile

The New York Times recently published a glowing review of Kevin Guilfoile's The Thousand.
The Thousand

The Thousand by Kevin Guilfoile

The blurb:
In 530 B.C., a mysterious ship appeared off the rainy shores of Croton, in what is now Italy.  After three days the skies finally cleared and a man disembarked to address the curious and frightened crowd that had gathered along the wet sands.  He called himself Pythagoreas.  Exactly what he said that day is unknown, but a thousand men and women abandoned their lives and families to follow him.  They became a community.  A school.  A cult dedicated to the search for a mathematical theory of everything.  Although Pythagoras would die years later, following a bloody purge, his disciples would influence Western philosophy, science, and mathematics for all time.

Chicago, the present day.  Canada Gold, a girl both gifted and burdened by uncanny mental abilities, is putting her skills to questionable use in the casinos and courthouses of Las Vegas when she finds herself drawn back to the city in which her father, the renowned composer Solomon Gold, was killed while composing his magnum opus.  Beautiful, brilliant, troubled, Canada has never heard of the Thousand, a clandestine group of powerful individuals safeguarding and exploiting the secret teachings of Pythagoras.  But as she struggles to understand her father's unsolved murder, she finds herself caught in the violence erupting between members of the fractured ancient cult while she is relentlessly pursued by those who want to use her, those who want to kill her, and the one person who wants to save her.

The Thousand is ambitious, unusual, and difficult to characterize.  Guilfoile introduces us to an elite thousand families that served as early disciples of Pythagoreas, these Thousand  hold secrets and untold technologies that derive from elaborate and amazing mathematical discoveries and proofs.  It's a brilliant idea and Guilfoile develops it well.  It is possible to imagine these advanced discoveries in all aspects of trade, business, and living based on mathematical principles.  And to then extrapolate a schism in philosophy and politics that divides the Thousand and the deadly rivalry that ensues.

Guilfoile weaves in the story of Reggie LaSalle, a defense attorney who defends renowned composer Solomon Gold, who is accused of a bloody and cruel murder.  The acquittal brings LaSalle fame, clients, and a reputation that many would kill for -- as well as a guilty conscience and his client's death.

Canada Gold, Solomon Gold's only child, is another important character.  Her father's death bestows a large fortune and considerable notoriety.  As a child Canada had been unusual and gifted, but as a adult, her photographic memory, exceptional intelligence and ability to spot patterns lead her to unconventional and occasionally unwise choices.

The well developed characters and unusual plot makes The Thousand a gripping and satisfying read.  Whether a thriller or mystery or part fantasy,  The Thousand makes for a great escape.

ISBN-10: 1400043093 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (August 24, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publicist and publisher.

About the Author:
Kevin Guilfoile has written for McSweeney's, Salon, The Morning News, and The New Republic.  his first novel, Cast of Shadows, has been translated into more than fifteen languages. He lives in Chicago with his wife and children.

Thank you so much to Dana and the publisher for this review opportunity!

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