Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Geographer's Library - Jon Fasman

There are still seven good reading weeks left before the end of the year, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is my favorite read of 2010. This book has been sitting on my shelf since my brother bought it for me for Christmas at least two years ago - and it just kills me that such a gem could be waiting around right in front of my face and I had no idea. But, I am so happy to have found it. This is a strange mystery about a collection of objects all pertaining to alchemy, and collected hundreds of years ago, only to be stolen, sold-off, or otherwise lost to history. Fasman gives some historical background of the objects and then intersperses tales throughout the book of each individual piece, it's use, value, and known whereabouts. The rest of the book takes place in present day where a reclusive college professor has just died, seemingly under mysterious circumstances. Paul Tomm, a young cub reporter for a small Connecticut newspaper is assigned to write an obituary. But, instead of the usual straightforward story, he finds himself on a wild goose-chase to figure out who this professor really was and why anyone would want him dead. Given the alchemy angle, there's definitely a little mumbo-jumbo thrown into the mix, but mostly it was just good old-fashioned suspense. Paul does find himself in a little romance that is incredibly suspicious, and he behaves a bit too naively at times. But, all in all, I thought this was an incredibly well-written and fun mystery. One of those books that got me excited about reading all over again.

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