A distinguished Shakespearean scholar found tortured to death . . .
A lost manuscript and its secrets buried for centuries . . .
An encrypted map that leads to incalculable wealth . . .
The Washington Post called Michael Gruber's previous work "a miracle of intelligent fiction and among the essential novels of recent years." Now comes his most intellectually provocative and compulsively readable novel yet.
Tap-tapping the keys and out come the words on this little screen, and who will read them I hardly know. I could be dead by the time anyone actually gets to read them, as dead as, say, Tolstoy. Or Shakespeare. Does it matter, when you read, if the person who wrote still lives?
These are the words of Jake Mishkin, whose seemingly innocent job as an intellectual property lawyer has put him at the center of a deadly conspiracy and a chase to find a priceless treasure involving William Shakespeare. As he awaits a killeror killersunknown, Jake writes an account of the events that led to this deadly endgame, a frantic chase that began when a fire in an antiquarian bookstore revealed the hiding place of letters containing a shocking secret, concealed for four hundred years. In a frantic race from New York to England and Switzerland, Jake finds himself matching wits with a shadowy figure who seems to anticipate his every move. What at first seems like a thrilling puzzle waiting to be deciphered soon turns into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, where no onenot family, not friends, not loversis to be trusted.
Moving between twenty-first-century America and seventeenth-century England, The Book of Air and Shadows is a modern thriller that brilliantly re-creates William Shakespeare's life at the turn of the seventeenth century and combines an ingenious and intricately layered plot with a devastating portrait of a contemporary man on the brink of self-discovery . . . or self-destruction.
A literary thriller (quite literally) which is smart enough to get the mental cogs whirring, with a depth of characterization rare in a thriller, but with an action quotient more than high enough to keep one up late into the night. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Washington Post - Ron Charles
Sadly, the women in this novel don't come off much better than they do in the average James Bond movie, but Jake is a truly engaging narrator, who's forced by this crisis to face up to a lifetime of moral weakness.
The Denver Post - Robin Vidimos The Book of Air and Shadows, an intricately crafted and literate work, should give the [thriller] genre a good shake. What Michael Gruber has omitted in car chases and shootouts (and rest easy, those elements aren't completely erased), he's more than made up for with a rich cast of characters who are difficult to leave when the final pages are turned.
USA Today - Carol Memmott
Scholars fantasize endlessly about finding undiscovered works of literary giants. It's a perfect "what if" premise for a thriller, and author Michael Gruber does a bang-up job incorporating it into his breathlessly engaging novel, The Book of Air and Shadows.
The Boston Globe - Clea Simon
If The Book of Air and Shadows, a contemporary Elizabethan reference to the missing play, sounds overly refined, think again. Gruber's themes may be lofty, but his people -- notably his narrators Jake Mishkin, Albert Crosetti, and Richard Bracegirdle -- are fully fleshed and often funny, with arch senses of humor and irony.
Though the book sounds enthralling on paper, it falls far short. The letters are transcribed for us—slow-reading Jacobean English thrust into a thriller. Think rumble strips on an interstate. Gruber is heavy on the family drama and introspection, too. The best part: librarians are portrayed as brilliant and sexy.
Starred Review. he mysterious murder of a Shakespearean scholar, shootouts in the streets of Queens and an unlikely romance all combine to make for a gripping, satisfying read.
A wonderful story with absolutely superb casting.
Booklist - Kier Graff
Starred Review. Though he ambitiously uses three different time lines and three points of view, Gruber deftly raises the thriller stakes and accelerates the plot while still creating convincing personal journeys for his characters. Even better, he finds time to thoughtfully explore related concepts, such as the ways movies inform our behavior and the nature of industries built to profit on creativity. All that and a tantalizing imagining of Shakespeare's personality, too.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by mike Just finished? I just finished and had to surf for a synopsis since I don't think I understand the end. Was it real or not? Part of me wants to use a short line by Crosetti (describing the movie life) - "keep 'em guessing at the end" or something like... Read More
Rated of 5
by Julia Murphy Loved it til I got to the end I really enjoyed the idea of the lost Shakespeare play and the clever way in which it was discovered. I tend to be a fan of literary mysteries, but they are often a little ridiculous (The DaVinci Code) and/or written to an elementary audience... Read More
Rated of 5
by JaneN Keeps You Guessing This book manages to take itself seriously while the author is making fun of the very stuff he is writing about. I loved it !The story is full of double crosses, and red herrings, both in the present and in the past. Characters from the past are... Read More
Rated of 5
by MsSueK Book of Air and Shadow This book didn't necessarily "grab" my attention when I started it. The first half of the book goes into too much detail of the lawyer's extensive sex life which really doesn't have that much direct bearing on the story line.
At any rate, about... Read More
Rated of 5
by Poet1051 Wow! This book is both a murder mystery and a treasure hunt. It is told from three points-of-view, two of which converge at the end.
Basically, it is about the discovery of a letter that suggests the existence of an unknown Shakespeare play. The... Read More
No portraits of Shakespeare were
commissioned during his lifetime, but
some appeared later, such as the copper
engraving that graces the title page of
the First Folio published in 1623;
plentiful information on all things
Shakespeare including a
collection of portraits that may or
may not represent what he actually
Michael Gruber, born and raised
in New York City, was educated in its
public schools and has a Ph.D. in marine
science. From 1977 he worked in the
Carter White House, Office of Science
and Technology Policy. From there he
moved to the Environmental Protection
Agency as a policy analyst and also as
the speechwriter for the Administrator.
In 1986, he was promoted to the Senior
Executive Service of the U.S.,...
Shakespeare: The Biography is quite unlike other more analytic biographies that have been written.
Ackroyd uses his skill, his extraordinary knowledge, and his historical intuition to craft this major full-scale book on one of the most towering figures of the English language.
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