Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Book of Air and Shadows

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The Book of Air and Shadows

A Novel

by Michael Gruber

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 496 pages

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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; www.william-shakespeare.info/ offers plentiful information on all things Shakespeare including a collection of portraits that may or may not represent what he actually looked like.


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., the highest level of the federal civil service.

In 1984 his cousin, Robert Tanenbaum, a successful trial lawyer, called him from his offices in Los Angeles asking him to look at the first hundred pages of a book he had written at the request of a publishing house. Gruber says "I called him, and I said, 'This is unsalvageable. It's not a novel, it has no characters, no plot, nothing.'"

In return for half the advance, Gruber rewrote the novel, they renegotiated the contract and went into business. This arrangement continued for 15 books. Gruber says he created the characters and the novels based on stories Tanenbaum told him, or transcripts of cases Tanenbaum had worked on. However, Gruber's credit was limited to a thank you on the acknowledgments page. Eventually the relationship dissolved - Resolve (2003) was the last Tanebaum book Gruber wrote.

He started writing The Witch's Boy in 1996, but was unable to find a publisher (it was eventually published in 2005). So he wrote a thriller for adults, Tropic of Night, set primarily in Miami, which tells the story of a series of ritualistic murders that sweep Miami. Two further thrillers starring Miami cop Jimmy Paz followed: Valley of Bones (2005) and Night of the Jaguar (2006).


Coming Soon: Michael Gruber's next novel, The Forgery of Venus, will publish in April 2008.

This article was originally published in April 2007, and has been updated for the March 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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