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The Book of Air and Shadows

Cover of The Book of Air and Shadows

The Book of Air and Shadows

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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 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.

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.

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    2
  • Library copies:
    2
Levels-
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Tap-tapping the keys and out come the words on this little screen, and who will read them I hardly know. I could be dead by the time anyone actually sees this, as dead as, say, Tolstoy. Or Shakespeare. Does it matter, when you read, if the person who wrote still lives? It sort of does, I think. If you read something by a living writer, you could, at least in theory, dash off a letter, establish a relationship maybe. I think a lot of readers feel this way. Some readers write to fictional characters as well, which is a little spookier.

    But clearly I am not dead yet, although this could change at any moment, one reason why I'm writing this down. It's a fact of writing that the writer never knows the fate of the text he's grinding out, paper being good for so many uses other than displaying words in ordered array, nor are the tiny electromagnetic charges I am creating on this laptop machine immune to the insults of time. Bracegirdle is definitely dead, having succumbed to wounds received at the battle of Edgehill in the English Civil War, sometime in late October of 1642. We think. But dead nevertheless, although before dying he composed the fifty-two-page manuscript that has more or less screwed up my life, or killed me, I don't know which yet. Or maybe the little professor was more to blame, Andrew Bulstrode, because he dropped the thing in my lap and then got himself murdered, or I could blame Mickey Haas, my old college roomie, who turned Bulstrode on to me. Mickey's still alive as far as I know, or the girl, the woman I should say, she has to carry some freight for this, because I seriously doubt I would have plunged as I did if I had not spied her long white neck rising from her collar there in the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room of the New York Public Library, and wanted to kiss it so much it made my jaw hurt.

    And Albert Crosetti and his unusual mom and his even more remarkable girlfriend, Carolyn, if girlfriend she is, all discoverers, and explicators, and decipherers, of Bracegirdle, my nemesis, without whom . . .

    I don't forget the actual villains, but I can't really blame them. Villains are just there, like rust, dull and almost chemical in the stupid simplicity of their greed or pride. Remarkable how easy it is to avoid these, how often we fail to do so. Not to mention Mary, Queen of Scots (speaking of stupid), one more conspiracy added to her score, even if all she did in this case was to exist. Naturally, I blame my dad, the old crook. And why not? I blame him for everything else.

    I see I am not doing this right. Okay, regain focus, at least array the facts, and begin by identifying the writer, me, Jake Mishkin, by profession an intellectual property lawyer. I believe that some gangsters may in the near future attempt to kill me. Although there is a kind of lawyer who can reasonably expect a certain level of physical danger as part of the employment picture, I am not that kind of lawyeri>by design, actually. In my youth, I was familiar enough with such lawyers; a few of them, I have reason to believe, actually did get whacked, and so when I chose my field of law I made sure it was one in which the ordinary participants did not routinely pack heat. IP law has its share of violent lunatics (perhaps more than its share), but when they scream obscenities and threaten to kill you and your client, they are, almost all the time, speaking figuratively.

    Even then, much of this venom is directed at litigators, and I am not a litigator. I don't have the personality for it, being a large peaceful person who believes that nearly all lawsuits, especially those involving intellectual property, are stupid, often grotesquely so, and that the underlying issues...

About the Author-
  • New York Times bestselling author Michael Gruber is the author of five acclaimed novels. He lives in Seattle.

Reviews-
  • Boston Globe

    "A smart thriller. Gruber's themes may be lofty but his people are fully fleshed. An engaging adventure."

  • Washington Post

    "If you love books, make room on the shelf for a new guilty pleasure."

  • Denver Post

    "An intricately crafted and literate work (that) should give the (thriller) genre a good shake."

  • Seattle Times

    "Fearless, intricate and intelligent. Stylish and confident prose. Dialogue that respects a reader's intelligence. A smart and original plot."

  • Entertainment Weekly

    "A dead genius, a sleuthing couple with romantic chemistry, and some bad guys...it's a fun party."

  • Charlotte Observer, Best Books of Summer

    "Entertaining. A wild ride."

  • Arizona Republic

    "Smart and irreverent."

  • Edmonton Journal (Canada)

    "(An) intoxicating mix of fact, fiction, secret codes and ancient conspiracies...well-written and cleverly told. A terrific thriller."

  • Dallas Morning News

    "A crackling whodunit. Characters (with) rich inner lives that transmute genre fiction into literature."

  • Ventura County Star

    "(An) entertaining thriller with Da Vinci Code appeal but far better writing."

  • Rocky Mountain News

    "Finely-honed prose, ambitious structure and captivating characters...This is a whip-smart adventure that surpasses its competitors with dexterity."

  • TheMorningNews.com

    "Another one of [Gruber's] patently intricate thrillers."

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    "Gruber is no ordinary writer."

  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    "A gripping literary thriller. A taut novel that offers ingenious puzzles plus murderous threats along the way."

  • Tampa Tribune

    "(An) intelligent thrill ride."

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "Ingenious...engaging...a gripping, satisfying read."

  • 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.

  • Wichita Eagle

    "A wild ride of a thriller. The characters have depth, histories and believability."

  • Booklist (starred review)

    "Gruber deftly raises the thriller stakes and accelerates the plot while still creating convincing personal journeys for his characters."

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred)

    "A fast-moving tale about the world of rare books. A wonderful story with absolutely superb casting."

  • Charlotte Observer

    "One of the best new writers in the genre."

Title Information+
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    HarperCollins
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The Book of Air and Shadows
The Book of Air and Shadows
Michael Gruber
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