The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett, review by Joyce Suellentrop
For a book lover and a mystery reader, nothing is as satisfying as a tale of a book wrapped with multi-layered, time-traveling international intrigue interwoven with a love story. Add the discovery of a Shakespearean document, a list of well-known book collectors from the past, and a mysterious painting and you have a book that you can’t stop reading but you don’t want to finish. Charlie Lovett, author of The Bookman's Tale keeps you reading and wanting more.
Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller, is more comfortable with books than with people. When working in Special Collections at Ridgefield University, he stumbles into the rare book world. He learns the craft of book restoration, the field of book forgery and, more importantly, the excitement of the search and the discovery of, “The Holy Grail,” the one book that solves a literary mystery.
Grieving for his wife who died unexpectedly, he walks into a bookshop in an English village. The book he chooses is familiar, one about forged Shakespearean documents. The book falls open to a page marked by a small piece of paper. He turns it over and sees a portrait of his wife. It can’t be his wife but it is. He slips the portrait into another book which he purchases and steps out of the shop and into a web of connections.
As Byerly searches for the artist of the painting, he stumbles onto a book that had passed from book collector to book collector, a book that had a direct connection with Shakespeare. Ethics aside and rationalization handy, he steals the book. Is it authentic or a forgery? Could it be his Holy Grail that solves the greatest literary mystery of the western world? Accompanied by a boon companion, his ventures turn into adventures and misadventures: a family feud fueled by hatred, a complex feat of forgery, murder and dramatic discovery.
Lovett brings all threads together and answers all questions(including the mysterious painting), not an easy feat with the twists and turns of the narrative, the surprising revelations and the tales within the tale. Finishing this book, like placing the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, satisfies the reader. You will then look forward to his next book, First Impressions A Novel of Old books, Unexpected Love and Jane Austen.