Plot or Premise
Janeway decides to use his finder’s fee from the Grayson affair (book #2) to buy one amazing book, paying almost $30K for it at auction. The mystery is not about the origins of the book itself, but more about the author himself, an explorer named Richard Burton (not the actor).
What I Liked
After buying the book, Janeway is contacted by an old woman who claims the book was hers once upon a time and subsequently stolen. Janeway believes her, and involves some other people in the story, one of whom ends up dead. There’s a killer chasing the book and it leads all the way to the same places the explorer visited in the American South before the US Civil War. Seedy bookdealers, a biographer with a familiar monkey on his back, a family friend with a similar but slightly different monkey. Everyone wants the book, the history, the story, and to own a piece of history.
What I Didn’t Like
There is a lot of exposition in the story. Some of it comes from a woman who did research using hypnosis and tape recordings to recover lost memories, and while it works as a plot device, it could have just as easily been done earlier in the woman’s life and without as much page time. In addition, there is a flashback to the people in the Burton story (just before the US Civil War), which happens about the 40% mark and runs about 10-15% of the novel. It’s engaging in the first person but makes for another really long exposition. Finally, the action scene at the end seems more like a cheap action movie, and it takes a LONG time to get to the actual action.
The Bottom Line
Good mystery, but a lot of exposition and a slow ending.