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The Crime That Created The Man Of Steel

Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Brad Meltzer's literary offspring include comic books, television scripts and wildly popular page-turning works of fiction. His latest thriller, The Book of Lies, melds together two well-known tales of familial tragedy and redemption. One simply could not be more venerable. The other is modern, sleek and powerful. Cain and Abel, meet Superman.

Meltzer posits there's ancient power in the lost, unknown weapon used by Cain to kill his brother — a bone? a rock? — and manages to connect this notion, through a breathless series of intrigue and plot twists worthy of The Da Vinci Code, to the mysterious, real-life 1932 murder of Mitchell Siegel. Never heard of him? That gentleman happened to be the father of the creator of Superman. Jerry Siegel dreamed up the iconic, bulletproof comic book character only a few months after his father took three shots in the chest, for no fathomable reason.

"What does Cain, history's greatest villain, have to do with Superman, the world's greatest hero? And what do two murders, committed thousands of years apart, have in common?" That's the sort of breathless back-cover language from Meltzer's Web site designed to entice readers.

Mix in a long-lost father and son in contemporary southern Florida; a killer tattooed with the Mark of Cain; and a cache that includes not only the world's oldest murder weapon, but the secret of immortality, and perhaps you've got a humdinger of a book. Not all reviewers agree. Meltzer created a hilarious, yet rueful video mocking the most severe notices of his seventh novel.

This reading of The Book of Lies took place in September 2008 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.