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Daniel Miller
Of Good & Evil

The second book in the bestselling Tree of Knowledge Series Albert has seen the future...does he have the power to change it? An unstoppable force is sweeping the United States. Powered by a secret ability to predict and manipulate events, Cristina Culebra and her RED Army relentlessly accumulate followers with one goal in mind: Absolute Power. While Cristina and her movement captivate the country, the one man who knows their next move-- who knows their every move--Mathematics Professor Albert Puddles, hides, grief-stricken from the loss of his one and only mentor. Hoping that Albert holds the key to solving the secrets of the RED Army, his comrades in arms, known as the “Book Club”, recruit friends and foes alike to bring him back from exile. But they may be too late, for a new enemy has risen to challenge Cristina and disrupt the Book Club’s plans, a mysterious terrorist known only as “The Cipher”. Faced with twin threats to everything he holds dear, Albert is forced to use his singular power to decode the riddles of a dead man while reckoning with the ghosts of his past. Of Good & Evil is a riveting follow-up to The Tree of Knowledge that is both grander in scope and more immediate in its impact—a heart-pounding thriller that forces us to question the true nature of right and wrong.

Miller (The Tree of Knowledge) crafts a dynamic mystery filled with exciting twists in this quick-paced thriller. Cristina Culebra and her Republic of Enlightenment and Democracy (RED) are poised to take over the United States as a new tyrannical political party, but Albert Puddles and his crew of intellectual friends have an unconventional weapon to stop her: the Tree of Knowledge. With the ability to use mathematical equations to predict the future, Albert must figure out a way to combat Cristina’s nefarious plans. Enter the Cipher, a mysterious figure dropping puzzles only the worthiest can unravel. Now, Albert must solve the Cipher’s clues and take down Cristina before her army reigns over the United States of America.

Fans of the first book in the series will quickly settle in with familiar friends while those new to Albert’s adventures will find this to be a satisfying standalone with all the relevant background information peppered into the plot. Overall, the characters build on their previously laid foundation for more depth and complexity: Albert is still snacking away at protein bars, although he does experience some growth, becoming more adaptable to new situations. Ying’s enthusiasm pairs well with Albert’s more reserved nature as they show off their imaginative code-solving skills while cracking away at the Cipher’s clues, and Cristina’s thirst for unquenchable power leads to several fun twists and makes her a thrilling villain.

Themes of loyalty, friendship, and political oppression beat at the heart of Albert’s mission. The ending ties up some loose ends but leaves the perfect hint of uncertainty. A plot-twist involving costumes and a comic convention is fun but far-fetched, and some readers might find themselves a step ahead at times. Still, with pulsating over-the-top action–described with power and crisp clarity–plus twisted betrayals, and a bit of romance, Miller crafts a wildly entertaining ride for thriller fans.

Takeaway: Perfect for thriller fans who enjoy teams solving imaginative clues in the midst of gripping danger.

Great for fans of: Dan Brown, Alan Jacobson.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A