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The Geographer's Library | [Jon Fasman]

The Geographer's Library

When a 12-century Sicilian cat burglar snatches a sack of artifacts from the king's geographer's library, the tools and talismans of transmutation, and eternal life, are soon scattered all over the world. Nine hundred years later, a young Connecticut reporter finds evidence that someone is collecting them again.
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Publisher's Summary

When a 12-century Sicilian cat burglar snatches a sack of artifacts from the king's geographer's library, the tools and talismans of transmutation, and eternal life, are soon scattered all over the world. Nine hundred years later, a young Connecticut reporter finds evidence that someone is collecting them again.

In the process of investigating the suspicious death of a local professor, Paul Tomm finds the dead man's heavily fortified office stuffed with books on alchemy. The Geographer's Library entwines his contemporary reporting with a chain of ancient stories-within-the-story, tracking the last time each of the geographer's tools changed hands; some bought, some stolen, some killed for.

The Geographer's Library is an extraordinary debut, smart, stylishly written, and full of suspense. It tempts with the glitter of antiquities and hooks with a chilling plot.

©2005 Jon Fasman; (P)2005 Penguin Audio and Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"One of the year's most literate and absorbing entertainments." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Harry T Washington, DC, USA 02-10-05
    Harry T Washington, DC, USA 02-10-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Brilliant first novel from Jon Fasman."

    The "Geographer's Library" is a historically rich debut mystery by Jon Fasman. Readers who enjoy esoteric historical mysteries will really enjoy Fasman's offering and find themselves hooked until the final secrets of the mystery are revealed.

    Fasman lays out the story slowly and carefully. His writing is bright, colorful, and intelligent; and it is uniformly interesting in its details and gripping in the mystery that it weaves. The main narrative follows Paul Tomm, a young reporter working for a small-town newspaper. A college professor dies, and Tomm is assigned to write the obituary. Unsurprisingly, Tomm's assignment entails more work than a typical death notice. I will not reveal the details of Tomm's investigation, lest I give away the secrets of the mystery.

    Tomm's first-person story alternates with chapters that comprise the contents of a "library" put together by a 12th century figure, nobly named Yussef Hadras ibn Azzam Abd Salih Jafar Khalid Idris. The library chapters detail various exotic objects that have a relation to the practice of alchemy. Each chapter tells a story about the object's origins and its current situation. It is clear that the library contents and Tomm's investigation are intriguing connected.

    Fasman takes the reader to many sites around the world. It is a fascinating journey for the reader, involving numerous interesting characters and engrossing situations. The book is a sheer joy to read, not just to find out whodunit, but to enjoy the many stories within the main story. The journey to the end of the tale is as much fun as the tale itself.

    In his review in the LA Times, Allen Kurzweil aptly says: "Alchemy, Fasman tells us more than once, is the science of transformation. Good fiction aspires to the same lofty goal, and it is achieved in 'The Geographer's Library,' a cabinet of wonders written by a novelist whose surname and sensibility fit comfortably on the shelf between Umberto Eco and John Fowles." I agree.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda newton, MS, United States 02-22-05
    Brenda newton, MS, United States 02-22-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Geographers Library"

    The two stories running at the same time was confusing at first. Once I was able to understand what it was all about, it was easier to listen to but it was still a trial. Scott Brick was wonderful as usual. I swear that man could read the phone book and he would hold my interest.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Bellevue, WA, USA 09-23-05
    Linda Bellevue, WA, USA 09-23-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Confusing"

    This book requires attentive listening as the story moves from present to past and most of the movement is not linear. Often, a past episode is developed in bits and pieces with portions of how it was resolved left out. The ending is not believeable given that the protagonist is a 23 year old journalist at a time when expose is the mantle of newspapers.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Bellingham, WA, USA 10-22-05
    Carol Bellingham, WA, USA 10-22-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    2
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    "waste of time"

    I had the rare opportunity to listen to this book at 2 sittings on long flights, and was really looking forward to it. I don't knoiw why I bothered to hear it to the end except that I had nothing else to do and am an eternal optimist, hoping the author would make something out of his wonderful idea for a novel. The characters aren't developed sufficiently to care about them, and the author drags out descriptions to the point of total boredom. The plot doesn't start to congeal until the last 2 discs, and by then, I didn't care. What a waste of prescious time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angel fullerton, CA, United States 09-05-05
    Angel fullerton, CA, United States 09-05-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Geographer's Library Reads Like A Map"

    There's a way of embellishing a modern mystery with historical details that brings the mystery to life, but this work is not an example of it. This work alternates chapters of historical facts/fiction, overstuffed with proper nouns of multiple ancient and foreign languages to the point of pedantic padding that, at the time of the telling, is stilted, plodding and, finally, nothing but annoying and distracting. I found myself fast-forwarding past the relentless "art history" chapters to get to the "modern mystery" chapters without feeling that anything significant had been missed. But that is not to imply that the "modern mystery" is, itself, interesting. Such is not the case. Maybe an abridged version would have seemed less ponderous, but even the narrator could not imbue this one with anything resembling entertainment.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Reichert Misawa, Japan 07-12-05
    Ryan Reichert Misawa, Japan 07-12-05 Member Since 2002
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    "Good but not great"

    Well developed characters, great writing style, but lacking in the finish.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ike 05-05-05
    Ike 05-05-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Geographer's Library"

    Great book. Intriguing premise and well read. I wish the plot had been developed a little more because it became confusing at times. Really enjoyed it, I just wish there had been more of it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Parker, CO USA 01-31-07
    Deborah Parker, CO USA 01-31-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful Read!"

    I loved this book. The characters were fascinating and even if the names are unfamiliar to the American ear, take a little time to get used to them and you won't be disappointed. This book is magic!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 06-14-06
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 06-14-06 Member Since 2001

    kevjenn

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So Much Promise, So Little Delivered"

    I have to say I looked forward to this one. I like these type of mysteries and I thought this one might be good. Saddly, I realized too late that Fasman never really had a story to tell. On the face of it, it sort of tells the story of a library's contents, which are good little vignettes. However, there are only the most superficial connections with the characters in the present day. I was not a fan of the Da Vinic Code but at least it had a plot; I really couldn't find one here. The descriptions of the items from the library seem to come out of nowhere. Also, the significance of the artifacts is not clear. Fasman had some interesting characters but I found myself feeling nothing for the "narrator" and couldn't have cared less if he died. When I read, or in this case listen, to a story, I want to be changed by the story and this story left me unaffected. In closing a real waste of time.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marsha Baltimore, MD, USA 07-20-05
    Marsha Baltimore, MD, USA 07-20-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Who?"

    This book has so much potential. Sadly it bogs the listener down with so many unpronounceable names which render them unmemorable and you find yourself say, "Who?? If the writer had just stayed in the present and provided the back stWho?ory through discovery it could have left you feeling educated at the same time entertaining. I hope the book version is easier to follow.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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