Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“In a few hours, when the sun rose, he would kiss Claire and open a safe in the cellar, where he kept a gun. He would pack that and, before leaving, would kiss her again–this woman without whom he had no wish to live. Yet one day he would live without her or she without him because that was the way of this world: we love, if we can, and lose what we love.” – Poincare, All Cry Chaos, by Leonard Rosen

As a book reviewer, we are often put in the position of reading and reviewing books that are not of our typical genre, making the entire process, at best, uncomfortable and at worst, tedious. That being said, the job of a reviewer, if one is truly serious about their task, is to remain ambivalent, despite everything, and assess the author’s work with an open and unbiased frame of mind. I always do, and always will, but sometimes, sometimes, it’s just impossible to get through it, and this book, alas, was one of those times.

No matter how many times I opened it and read, I could not sink in to the story, could not feel for the characters, could not align with content, despite my most heartfelt efforts. To this end, I need to preface this review by saying I did not NOT like the book, I just could NOT get in to it, but based on the reviews of countless others scattered all over the ‘net, this is a book that many WILL like, love even, and my lack of raving and poetic and whimsical accolades is not to be blamed on author or content quality, but my own total and utter disinterest in the subject of the book.

All Cry Chaos begins in Amsterdam, with the death of James Fenster, a prominent mathematician in town to give a speech at a World Trade Organization meeting. The method of his murder, reducing his hotel room alone to ashes, points to a shrewd, calculating and intelligent murderer. Interpol agent, Henry Poincare is called upon to lead the investigation, beginning with suspect number one, Fenster’s mysterious ex-fiancee. A complicated investigation ensues, leading Poincare and his partner, Serge Laurent to pursue many avenues and suspects, none at all who they seem.

The trail brings them to America, and then back to Europe, as bread crumbs of evidence, threats to his life and tests of faith and morality impede and threaten to destroy Poincare’s investigation, and very soul. The author uses fractals, math, good vs. evil, religion and deep insight and intricate detail to flesh out a plot that is clearly an investment of time, research and love, producing a mystery/life/love story that keeps the reader questioning, re-reading and sometimes, like in my case, confused, throughout the entire book.

There are many plot twists and turns. Every detail in All Cry Chaos is painstakingly placed to create, what for some, will, and has certainly, based on the reviews of others, been suggested as genius. I can understand how some with a mind eager to decimate, educate and relate to a certain type of character and plot line, would find this book a sensory treasure trove. It’s definitely (too) smart, sharp, and (very) complex. There is just enough of everything, and for some, a little too much, to keep the mind alive and constantly engaged. There is dark humor, politics, religion, ethics and morals, intertwined with murder, loss, love and deception. It’s the kind of book, I know, while coming off completely sexist and genre prejudice, seems to appeal to men, more so than women. My father, an avid mystery reader, for one, would have sunk his teeth in to this complex and highly intellectual tale of social commentary fused with high tension and fraught with moral obligations. It’s the kind of novel I would probably enjoy thoroughly on the big screen, but found too deep, too overwhelming, personally, as a book.

Rating: 3/5

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

The review copy of this book was provided free of any obligation by Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.