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The Book of Air and Shadows    by Michael Gruber order for
Book of Air and Shadows
by Michael Gruber
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Is it possible that there is a lost play by William Shakespeare waiting to be found? Albert Crosetti and Carolyn Rolly find an indication that this might just be the case, in an old volume they are trying to restore. Enter former Olympian weight lifter and intellectual property lawyer Jake Mishkin, who is horrified when a Shakespearean scholar is brutally murdered.

The Book of Air and Shadows is a thriller in every sense of the word. The search for this lost manuscript leads Mishkin into unknown territory. Deception as well as mayhem lurks around every corner. Kidnapping plays a part. The main thrust, though, is the possibility that Shakespeare did indeed write another play this one about Mary, Queen of Scots. Why is it hidden? Where? What would it be worth if it were found? Who has enough muscle to end up being its owner?

Keeping the personalities distinct is a bit of a chore for the reader but worth the effort. Each character is a unique individual with his or her own agenda. The world of ciphering is something about which I knew nothing. Though I'm not sure I understand it much better now, I found the process described in the book fascinating. The plot is intricate and very carefully rendered.

The Book of Air and Shadows is written by the author of Night of the Jaguar, Valley of Bones, Tropic of Night and The Witch's Boy - an erudite man by any definition of the word. This is not a novel to skim through, recoiling from every deadly encounter, but rather a book to be savored for every detail of its content. I am envious of Gruber's imagination.

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