Archive for November, 2014

The Bookman’s Tale

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett caugh my eye in the store quite a few times before I decided to pick it up and take a peek. I just had to many other titles to check out. Grief  striken antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly flees from North Carolina to the English countryside after the sad death of his beloved young wife, Amanda. After 9 months of never even entering a bookshop, he finally gets the nerve to check out Hay-on-Wye, the famous town of books just over the border in Wales. While he’s flipping through books he discovers a piece of paper approx 4″ square tucked inside An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers by Edmond Malone. Judging by the state of the paper Peter was certain it had been there for at least a century. Out of sheer curiosity he turns it over and is gobsmacked to see what looks like a portrait of his wife Amanda staring back at him. Without a second thought, he quickly inserts the picture into a shabby copy of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dickens’ unfinished final novel, and buys it, knowing without any doubt, that he can restore the book and get two or three times the asking price. But first and foremost, he is determined to find out what the story is behind the beautiful woman in the picture. His search leads him back  through the ages all the way to Shakespeare’s time. And with clues and dangers leading the way, he sets out to prove once and for all, the truth about the Bard’s real itentity. This is a really interesting and fascinating book. If you love historical fiction, anything to do with books and their authors in bygone days, and the process of uncovering the secrets that lie on the shelves in your library and bookstores, then this is the book for you. I loved it.

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The Heist

I cottoned on to Daniel Silva late in the game. I read The English Girl sometime last year, and when I spotted his latest The Heist, I just knew I had to read it. He’s an amazing writer. His books have an art theme to them (at least those that I’ve read so far), they hop all over Europe and the Middle East, they’re full of intrigue, and each one is a page-turning thriller that will keep you up reading well into the night. Gabriel Allon is an art restorer, assassin, and Israeli spy. How’s that for a CV! While he is busy restoring an alterpiece in Venice he is visited by the Italian police who need his help in sorting through a murder scene in Lake Como that has lead to the arrest of his friend, eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood. The dead man is a fallen British spy who has been involved in the trafficing of stolen artworks. To save Isherwood, Allon must track down the real killer and, last but not least, find the most famous missing painting in the world – Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. I can’t imagine the amount of research that goes into each of Silva’s books. The art background is meticulously done, and sorting through the political background of the Middle East, making it clear and digestible to the average reader, is enough to make anyone’s head spin. But Silva does all this and more amazingly well. This is a brilliant book. And you won’t be satisfied with just this one book. You’ll be searching for others in the Daniel Allon series – guaranteed!

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