A Bookman’s Tale, by Charlie Lovett.
A Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett. Viking, 2013. Hardback,368 pages.
A compelling mystery about a dealer in antiquarian books who stumbles onto a volume that could change literary history. A must-read for those obsessed with books.
Peter Byerly has two passions, books and his wife, Amanda. When she dies, he is devastated and retreats to a cottage in rural England. Slowly trying to re-establish his life, he finds a watercolor portrait that bears a striking resemble to his dead wife, who was born a century after it was painted. He seeks to find out about the painting and discovers a book that would establish the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. But is the book really what it seems or a forgery?
Interwoven with this main narrative are two others. One follows Byerly’s college years in North Carolina with his discovery of the sheer delight that books bring and of the woman he loves. The other plot traces the possible history of those involved with the mysterious book from the sixteenth century to the present. These stories are skillfully interwoven with each break in chronology leaving readers on the edge of their seats.
From page one, this is a suspenseful novel. At first the questions seem character-driven and concern Byerly’s thoughts and actions. Can he cope? What will he find? Gradually, however, more threatening patterns emerge. Why does his search for the origin of a book lead to his involvement in murder?
I read a review copy of this book from Netgalley on my NOOK.
I recommend The Bookman’s Tale to all readers who enjoy well-told tales, especially mystery readers who appreciate more than gore. This is delightfully written, sure to capture the imagination of all book lovers, whether or not they usually read mysteries.