Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Peter Byerly has escaped to England.  After the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, he couldn't face being in familiar places and running into acquaintances, constantly reliving her death.  He flees to their newly renovated cottage in the Cotswold district, where he holes up, talking to no one. 

His doctor wants him to get out and about, and little by little, Peter begins to interact with the world.   He is a book restorer and dealer, and he starts to visit antique stores and bookshops, buying a few books.  As he gets out more, word grows that there is a bookseller in the neighborhood, and he is approached by the local gentry.  This family has fallen on hard times, and wants Peter to evaluate their library and determine if there are books there that are valuable enough to sell.

Peter agrees and then, amazingly, makes the find of his career.  He finds a fabled book, no extant copy of which is known, that proves William Shakespeare was indeed the author of the plays he is credited with writing.  If the book is real, it is the find of a lifetime.  Peter takes it and starts the process of determining its authenticity.

But someone else wants the book, and wants it badly.  There is a murder and Peter and a new friend are chased; their surroundings ransacked.  Can Peter find the truth about the book before it claims his life?

Charlie Lovett has written an engaging novel that will keep the reader turning pages, anxious to see how the mystery is resolved.  The action bounces between three time periods; the present, Peter's courtship and marriage with Amanda, and the history of English literature as the history of the book is revealed.  The reader learns something of the art of book restoration and the historical controversy about the accuracy of Shakespeare's authorship while being entertained.  This book is recommended for mystery and book lovers alike.

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