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THE BOOK OF AIR AND SHADOWS by Michael Gruber Kirkus Star


by Michael Gruber

Pub Date: April 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-06-087446-5
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

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 may be the most valuable theatrical property in the universe.

A wonderful story with absolutely superb casting.