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The Book of Air and Shadows: A Novel | [Michael Gruber]

The Book of Air and Shadows: A Novel

Jake Mishkin's 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 killer (or killers) unknown, 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 400 years.
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Publisher's Summary

"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?"

Those 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 killer (or killers) unknown, 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 400 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, in which no one - not family, not friends, not lovers - is to be trusted.

Moving between 21st-century America and 17th-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 17th 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.

©2007 Michael Gruber; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A wonderful story" (Kirkus)
"A wild story....Engrossing." (The Washington Post)
"[With] intelligence and engaging style...Gruber raises the thriller stakes." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (404 )
5 star
 (105)
4 star
 (144)
3 star
 (93)
2 star
 (39)
1 star
 (23)
Overall
3.9 (80 )
5 star
 (28)
4 star
 (25)
3 star
 (19)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (4)
Story
3.9 (81 )
5 star
 (29)
4 star
 (28)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    04-09-11
    04-09-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    19
    8
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    "excellent characters, storytelling"

    I loved "The Forgery of Venus" and this book is just as good but with a different flavor. "Shadows..." has multi-faceted characters who laugh at the obviousness of the plot they're in, which is not very obvious at all. Think "DaVinci Code" with MUCH better writing and character development, slyly referential to all of our favorite movies. Excellent narrative performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pradheepa Houston, TX, United States 07-28-09
    Pradheepa Houston, TX, United States 07-28-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    20
    14
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    1
    Overall
    "Promising but disappointing"

    An interesting plot, fine writing, intellectually engaging treasure hunt and realistic depiction of the past, all contribute to an enjoyable book. Stephen Hoye's narration is excellent. Yet, the characters disappointed me. The author, I feel was very unfair to one particular likable character who was portrayed in a very negative light not because the story demands it but because he wanted to contrast a pair of saintly characters with a couple of sinners. Many of the secondary characters too, seem nicer than they are allowed to be.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Ferndale, WA, USA 07-02-09
    Julie Ferndale, WA, USA 07-02-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    289
    1
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    Overall
    "A ruined book"

    This book had a very promising beginning. The plot was intriguing and well laid out. All this was ruined by the constant sexual talk and liaisons. Bordering on pornographic. All too much for me and I finally gave up on it a few hours into it.
    Such a waste of a promising story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Wichita, KS, USA 03-13-09
    Jenny Wichita, KS, USA 03-13-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    15
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    Overall
    "Just couldn't finish it"

    This book just became too bogged down. I kept meaning to finish it...but never did. The basic premise of the story was good, the characters were interesting, but after a certain point, it just seemed not to be getting anywhere and I always had something else I wanted to do more than I wanted to make the effort to finish the book. Maybe you'll have more patience than I did.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee Shingletown, CA, USA 07-26-07
    Dee Shingletown, CA, USA 07-26-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    9
    1
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    "Boring"

    Boring, boring, boring. The narrator put me to sleep except when he read the jacobian letters. It took too long to progress the plot

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Howard Ben Lomond, CA 07-12-07
    Anne Howard Ben Lomond, CA 07-12-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    2
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    "Dull throughout"

    I had high hopes for this book - it came with good recommendations but I found it very difficult to find any character that one could care about enough to sustain interest in the novel. I did get through it, found mild interest in the actual mystery and supposed social aspects of Shakespeare, but would not recommend it to a friend. The reader is fine but could not carry the story. All a bit too contrived, convenient, and the shifting timeline and character perspective was confusing on audio-read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Tuck 06-13-07
    A. Tuck 06-13-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
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    151
    19
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    3
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    Overall
    "Good story, so-so narrator"

    This was a good story with some interesting plot twists - rather enjoyable for a mystery complete with chase scenes, treasure, and rival parties. I would have given it four stars, but the narrator's slow drawl, which works well for "In the Company of a Courtesan" was just wrong for this type of story, and pulled me out of the plot on more than one occasion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sunny Seattle, WA, USA 05-26-07
    Sunny Seattle, WA, USA 05-26-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    1
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    "Boring"

    I listen to a lot of audio books. Some are good, some are bad and I've been able to live with both. This is the first book that I have seriously not enjoyed. While the plot idea was! interesting enough, it was not enough to to allow me to get past the drowsy narrator's style. The personal escapades of the main character are repetitive and just flat out uninteresting.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Enid San Diego, CA, United States 02-08-10
    Enid San Diego, CA, United States 02-08-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    199
    4
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    "Great Story !"

    Not often do you actually hear a new idea, seems movies and books all do the same story over and over. I enjoyed listening to the whole book and I thought the narrator was great. I also loved when this narrator read Skinny Dip which helped me understand the tongue in cheek humor in this a bit more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marsha Pauma Valley, CA, United States 09-28-13
    Marsha Pauma Valley, CA, United States 09-28-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Combining the disparate!"

    I just finished listening (for the second time) this book. I remember consuming the story when it came out in one big gulp the first time I read it, but this time I distinctly cherished each piece. The vast variety of characters (all well characterized by narrator Stephen Hoye) usually don't co-exist in the same book.This book, in its divided narratives, shows off the best of a Brooklyn young man and his American mother, the 1611 narrative of William Shakespeare's younger "cousin", and the lawyer-protagonist Olympic weight-lifter who is the Catholic son of a Jewish mobbed-up con man and his Nazi war bride. How do all of these disparate elements work together? Well.
    I recommend the book because it is a thoughtfully done mystery that expresses well each main character's inner motivations for the interesting circumstances and mystery they find themselves in. It also throws in the history of Shakespeare, his work and a take on what might have been his life in 1610-1611. Well done!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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