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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings


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  • Overall

Not your average story.

This book is not for everyone. It's 3 stories in 1.

Stephen Hoye (Narrator) has a sardonical style that would turn many off. I happen to like him in this book but have found him tedious in others.

The author has an eye for detail. Instead of going in a direct line. He relays the history background and the interaction of the players.

I wouldn't call it an action book at least so far. The first 3rd is background on the characters and interaction.

I'm 1/3 of the way through this book and just had to review it because it's new, no other reviews and just so good.

So if you are the action type looking for a action book this isn't for you. If you are a little more literary and like a book that goes into details of the characters lives viewpoints and motivation. Slowly building a story You'll eat this up like a child with a plate of chocolate pudding!!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ed
  • 06-09-07

If you love language

The narrator has done a great job with this book. The story is excellent. The use of language steals the show for anyone who appreciates english written and spoken well.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


the title promised great things... as did the description.... but jeez! THIS IS LONGWINDED! I tried, TRIED to get into this, but it just droned on - and the narration was painful! no voice inflections, no difference between speakers, if I turned my head for a second I had to rewind just to see who was talking because I did not know which character was up! maybe it is a better read, that way you can skip ahead to the good parts

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 12-25-07

Post-Modern Pollution

This is some of the most self-indulgent prose I've seen (heard) in a while. He has the elements of a good story buried in the whiney narration. Because of the self-conscious feel, it seems like it was written by the Lit. professor rather than the attorney.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding in many ways

I hope that Audible will include some more of this author in its listings. This plot is thoroughly engaging, his characters are well drawn, memorable, and vivid, and the narrator, in many voices and dialects, is expert. Moving us back and forth in time, and through the neighborhoods of New York as well as other environs, Gruber keeps us completely involved. No spoilers here-- enough to say that the story will draw you in instantly,and I guarantee that you will be finding all sorts of excuses to hook up the ipod and listen till it's over. Enjoy!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Sleepytime Narrator

I echo the opinion of "Pat from Salinas" et al. re:narration. I may at some point in the future try to read this book, if I can erase the narrator's influence from my memory. Perhaps if I turned up the speed option on my ipod? I'm trying to push through, but presently think that Mr. Hoye should convert to reading bedtime stories. That should work well. Hard to overlook the narrator's influence in rating the book isn't it?

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathleen
  • Kenilworth , IL, USA
  • 05-21-07


deeply and well researched and detailed, full of surprizes all the way through, definitely better than da vinci code, reader excellent-after a fast 19 hour listen it left you wanting to hear more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • IVAL
  • FREEHOLD, NJ, United States
  • 09-13-12

And smoke and mirrors......

What made the experience of listening to The Book of Air and Shadows the most enjoyable?

This author was new to me. I bought the book based on its summary in Audible. Lost Shakespeare manuscript, mystery to unravel, etc. the sort of thing I like. What fun it turned out to be! We get to follow from several characters' perspectives the tracking down of this, possibly fraudulent, enigma. We even get an intriguing fragment of real (also possibly) 17th century letters concerning the S- man himself. Worth millions. Possibly... While all the while exploring the psyches and libidos of all involved. Add Russian gangsters and a convict priest -- what's not to like?

Did Stephen Hoye do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The reader was not new to me, however, Stephen Hoy had narrated Hiassen's book Star Island, which I hated. One of that book's least appealing characters is the irritating, grasping mother, read with an even more irritating parody of a Brooklyn Jewish accent. There was a mother in Air and Shaddows also, but she was Italian, and a highly literate librarian as well. But I guess mr. Hoy has only one mother voice. Despite this, and his kind of insinuating style of delivery in general, his narration did begin to grow on me.

Any additional comments?

Throughout the book the reader is led down the garden path, along with the gullible characters. But we are too smart for him, right?? All of which makes the ending of the book all the more delightful! This book does not appear to be one of a series, (my preference) although the main protagonist is an intellectual properties lawyer, who could potentially ferret out more literary secrets. But I have not seen the last of Michael Gruber.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ed
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 07-18-07

Too many flip flops

Some listeners may have enjoyed the jumping back and forth between the 17th and 21st centuries that this book provided, but I didn't. The good part was that I started to understand the 17th century dialogue about halfway through and it was probably germane to understanding the plot. I think the author had too many contrivances and twists built into his story and the characters were a little bit like those found in comic strips. Still, with all the perceived inperfections in the story, I enjoyed the listen and think most others will too. The narrator did a great job.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A page-turner...

A tale that really moves right along. The story is told from three different points of view (1st person protagonist, 3rd person focusing on secondary character, and narrations of 17th-century letters). Between the excellent reader (try _Skinny Dip_ if you like his reading as much as I did), the shifting points of view, and some very nice plot twists, I found this to be excellent reading for a long car trip.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful