The Book of Air and Shadows

The Book of Air and Shadows

3.2 81
by Michael Gruber
     
 

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A fire destroys a New York City rare bookstore—and reveals clues to a treasure worth killing for. . . . A disgraced scholar is found tortured to death. . . . And those pursuing the most valuable literary find in history are about to cross from the harmless mundane into inescapable nightmare.

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Tropic of Night<

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Overview

A fire destroys a New York City rare bookstore—and reveals clues to a treasure worth killing for. . . . A disgraced scholar is found tortured to death. . . . And those pursuing the most valuable literary find in history are about to cross from the harmless mundane into inescapable nightmare.

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Tropic of Night comes a breathtaking thriller that twists, shocks, and surprises at every turn as it crisscrosses centuries, from the glaring violence of today into the dark shadows of truth and lies surrounding the greatest writer the world has ever known.

Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
What follows is a wild story of double-crossings, forgeries, kidnappings and murders that's engrossing even when it's ridiculous. (At one point, the code secret is tattooed on a beautiful woman's thigh -- so handy.) We've got Russian mobsters, Jewish gangsters, Nazi thieves, international models and currency traders, oh my. And all of this madcap adventure in the present is mirrored in a story we gradually decipher from that 17th-century letter, describing a nefarious plot by radical Puritans to entrap "the secret papist Shaxpure." While twisting the plot into great knots of complexity, Gruber mixes in fascinating details about rare manuscripts, intellectual property, and ancient and modern cryptography.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In this ingenious literary thriller from Gruber (The Witch's Boy), the lives of two men are changed forever by William Shakespeare and the letters of Richard Bracegirdle, a 16th-century English spy and soldier. Jake Mishkin, a Manhattan intellectual property attorney and a bit of a rake, goes on the run from Russian gangsters. Albert Crosetti, an aspiring filmmaker working for an antiquarian bookstore, finds that life is more exciting than movies—perhaps too exciting. Together, Mishkin and Crosetti travel to England in search of a previously unknown Shakespeare manuscript mentioned by Bracegirdle. Though the pace sometimes slows to allow Mishkin, Crosetti and Bracegirdle to divulge interesting aspects of their personal lives, these digressions only make the story more engaging. The suspense created around the double-crosses and triple-crosses works because of the close connection readers forge with Crosetti in particular. The mysterious murder of a Shakespearean scholar, shootouts in the streets of Queens and an unlikely romance all combine to make for a gripping, satisfying read. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Praised author Gruber (Tropic of Night) attempts to join The Da Vinci Codefrenzy in his latest thriller, which centers on a hunt for an unknown autographed Shakespeare play. References to this play turn up in seemingly innocuous letters used as filler in the binding of an old book. Mishkin, an intellectual property attorney, comes into possession of some of these documents through his client, a Shakespearean scholar. Crosetti, who discovered the papers while working at a rare-book store, partners with Mishkin to find the play after the scholar's murder. The play is eventually found, but has it all been an intricate scam? Though the book sounds enthralling on paper, it falls far short. The letters are transcribed for us—slow-reading Jacobean English thrust into a thriller. Think rumble strips on an interstate. Gruber is heavy on the family drama and introspection, too. The best part: librarians are portrayed as brilliant and sexy. This difficult-to-follow novel is recommended only for popular fiction collections desiring all of this author's titles. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/06.]
—Laura A.B. Cifelli Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
Encoded Jacobean documents suggest the existence of an un-produced Shakespeare play written in the bard's own hand. There is, as one would expect, considerable interest in the location of that work. Thriller author Gruber (Night of the Jaguar, 2006, etc.) steps away from his usual Miami haunts to make mischief in New York in a fast-moving and often hilarious tale about the usually torpid worlds of rare books and academia. The action begins with a grease fire that spreads from a restaurant to the rare-book shop next door, where labors would-be screenwriter Albert Crosetti, youngest of the many prodigiously talented children of a librarian and her late detective husband. Alone in the shop, Albert is able to rescue the most valuable volumes, but water severely damages one of the gems in the basement, a work that the store's owner gives to Albert's coworker Carolyn Rolly to break up for its prints and maps, as he reports a total loss to the insurers. With Albert's assistance, Carolyn, a gifted bookbinder, sets about reconstructing the book for possible resale and discovers, packed under the binding, correspondence from Richard Bracegirdle, a 17th-century puritan spy with a connection to Shakespeare. Albert has fallen in love with Carolyn during the damage-control process, and the two take the documents for authentication to a Columbia professor who in turn takes them for safekeeping to intellectual-property lawyer, world-class skirt-chaser and Olympian weightlifter Jake Mishkin. The professor's death by torture at the hands of Russian thugs pushes Mishkin into a detection process that imperils his and Albert's families and ultimately takes everyone to Warwickshire to try to unearth what maybe the most valuable theatrical property in the universe. A wonderful story with absolutely superb casting. Agent: Simon Lipskar/Writers House LLC
From the Publisher
"Stylish and confident prose…. Dialogue that respects a reader's intelligence. A smart and original plot…. And…a sense of humor." —The Seattle Times
Booklist
"Gruber deftly raises the thriller stakes and accelerates the plot while still creating convincing personal journeys for his characters."
Boston Globe
“A smart thriller. Gruber’s themes may be lofty but his people are fully fleshed. An engaging adventure.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Finely-honed prose, ambitious structure and captivating characters...This is a whip-smart adventure that surpasses its competitors with dexterity.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Gruber deftly raises the thriller stakes and accelerates the plot while still creating convincing personal journeys for his characters.”
Ventura County Star
“(An) entertaining thriller with Da Vinci Code appeal but far better writing.”
Seattle Times
“Fearless, intricate and intelligent. Stylish and confident prose. Dialogue that respects a reader’s intelligence. A smart and original plot.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A gripping literary thriller. A taut novel that offers ingenious puzzles plus murderous threats along the way.”
TheMorningNews.com
“Another one of [Gruber’s] patently intricate thrillers.”
Newsday
“MIchael Gruber pulls out all the stops (in) an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse.”
Maclean's
“Very good...ingenious and suspenseful.”
BookPage
“Not since Bayatt’s POSSESSION has an author so successfully combined literary puzzle, tempestuous duplicity, human adventure and good storytelling.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A dead genius, a sleuthing couple with romantic chemistry, and some bad guys...it’s a fun party.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Gruber is no ordinary writer.”
Dallas Morning News
“A crackling whodunit. Characters (with) rich inner lives that transmute genre fiction into literature.”
Wichita Eagle
“A wild ride of a thriller. The characters have depth, histories and believability.”
Chicago Tribune
“A wonderful book, brimming with energy, suspense, wit and fascinating details about the rare book business. A fast-paced yarn that is part Henry James, part James Bond.
Arizona Republic
“Smart and irreverent.”
Salon.com
“Quirky, flawed characters, tricksy first-person narration, and nimble, witty prose. Gruber is the real deal.”
Edmonton Journal (Canada)
“(An) intoxicating mix of fact, fiction, secret codes and ancient conspiracies...well-written and cleverly told. A terrific thriller.”
USA Today
“Few thrillers will surpass [this book] when it comes to energetic writing, compellingly flawed characters, literary scholarship and mathematical conundrums.”
Denver Post
“An intricately crafted and literate work (that) should give the (thriller) genre a good shake.”
Tampa Tribune
“(An) intelligent thrill ride.”
Washington Post
“If you love books, make room on the shelf for a new guilty pleasure.”
Charlotte Observer
“One of the best new writers in the genre.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061739538
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/17/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
128,030
File size:
1 MB

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From the Publisher
"Stylish and confident prose…. Dialogue that respects a reader's intelligence. A smart and original plot…. And…a sense of humor." —-The Seattle Times

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