THE BOOK OF AIR AND SHADOWS

Michael Gruber

 A fire destroys a New York City rare bookstore—and reveals clues to a treasure worth killing for. . . . A disgraced scholar is found tortured to death. . . . And those pursuing the most valuable literary find in history are about to cross from the harmless mundane into inescapable nightmare.

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Tropic of Night comes a breathtaking thriller that twists, shocks, and surprises at every turn as it crisscrosses centuries, from the glaring violence of today into the dark shadows of truth and lies surrounding the greatest writer the world has ever known.

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 A fire destroys a New York City rare bookstore—and reveals clues to a treasure worth killing for. . . . A disgraced scholar is found tortured to death. . . . And those pursuing the most valuable literary find in history are about to cross from the harmless mundane into inescapable nightmare.

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Tropic of Night comes a breathtaking thriller that twists, shocks, and surprises at every turn as it crisscrosses centuries, from the glaring violence of today into the dark shadows of truth and lies surrounding the greatest writer the world has ever known.

less …
  • Harper
  • Paperback
  • March 2008
  • 496 Pages
  • 9780061456572

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$14.95

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About Michael Gruber

 Michael Gruber has been a marine biologist, a restaurant cook, a federal government official, and a political speechwriter. He and his wife, painter Elizabeth Winder Noyes, live in Seattle, Washington.

Praise

“Breathlessly engaging…brilliant…few [thrillers] will surpass The Book of Air and Shadows when it comes to energetic writing, compellingly flawed characters, literary scholarship, and mathematical conundrums. Air and Shadows is also incredibly smart….unpredictable…We never had this much fun reading The Da Vinci Code. Gruber has raised the stakes in the thriller genre.” — USA Today

“A smart thriller. Readers will find themselves educated about the history of cryptology, from grille texts to Vigenere solvers…Gruber’s themes may be lofty but his people are fully fleshed. An engaging adventure.” — Boston Globe

“If you love books, make room on the shelf for a new guilty pleasure. Smart, packed with excitement…Gruber mixes in fascinating details about rare manuscripts, intellectual property, and ancient and modern cryptography.” — Washington Post

“An intricately crafted and literate work (that) should give the (thriller) genre a good shake. A rich cast of characters who are difficult to leave when the final pages are turned. Gruber is a master of his material. He sidesteps the obvious risks with disparate plot lines, and his remain unmuddied and ultimately join together naturally.” — Denver Post

Discussion Questions

What is your view of Jake Mishkin’s character? Do his personality and profession aid in the search or are they more of a hindrance? Do his flaws make him more likeable?

Albert Crosetti’s life is currently on hold when he becomes involved in the mystery. He’s saving up to go to film school and living with his mother. Does his stasis make him more susceptible to Carolyn’s deception?

The Bracegirdle letters create an incredible sense of time and place with richly textured language and thoughtful details. Discuss some of the most vivid images and their importance to the story and to your own experience reading it.

What parallels do you see between Jake and Albert? Between Albert and Bracegirdle?

How do religious affiliations play an important part in both the past and the modern-day storylines?

Comedy and tragedy are both evident in TBOAAS. How do they play off and heighten each other in the narrative?

There are numerous correlations between TBOAAS and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. How many can you find? Harmony through balance is one of the key themes of The Tempest. Discuss how that theme is relevant to the various characters in TBOAAS.

Travel and moving beyond one’s normal, everyday experience, both physically and psychologically, occur many times in the story. How do you think that affects each character’s development?

Throughout recent history, there have been rumors about lost Shakespeare plays. What do you think would happen if a new Shakespeare play were discovered? Would the quality of the writing be as important as the fact that it was by Shakespeare?