Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A BURNABLE BOOK by Bruce Holsinger

Publisher:  Harper Collins
Date:  February 18, 2014
ISBN: 978-0062240323
Historical Fiction, Mystery
Obtained via:  Publisher/Edelwiess
4 Hearts

In the 1300’s Chaucer's medieval London, Geoffrey Chaucer approaches his friend and fellow poet John Gower with a strange request:  find a missing book. Not just any book, but a book of prophecies including one that foretells the death of King Richard in the not too distant future.  The book itself details in accurate detail the deaths of twelve kings before Richard and each died in the fashion the book prophesied.  How Chaucer came upon the book and how he managed to lose it remains shrouded from Gower by seemingly unknown secret machinations. A young woman dies, a son goes missing, friends turn on each other.

Then Gower finds the book—or at least a copy of it and rather than solve the mystery, it leads to more and along with those secrets are treacherous happenings.  As the date of Richard’s foretold death approaches more people, some close to Gower die and his son, Simon, thought guilty of counterfeiting, disappears.  Chaucer begins to drop enigmatic hints not only about the book but how Simon might be involved.  And then the day Richard is to die is upon them with the assassins roaming the streets of London.  Can John Gower reveal the murderer before the King is brought down?

A BURNABLE BOOK is definitely different from my usual reading fare and the first of author Bruce Holsinger’s books I’ve read but it definitely is not the last.  As a medieval scholar he gives an accurate, in-depth look at the times.  Interestingly, in his end notes about how much more he learned about the time through his research for the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed his weaving of a story told in John Gower’s voice interspersed he talks with versus that reminded me very much of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. 

Holsinger’s artfully crafts a story behind the story full of mystery and intrigue.  And the mystery has many layers to it.  Not only that, he gives his readers several stories that are brought together in the end and just as you think the mystery is solved and it has come to an end a whole other adventure unfolds. 

A BURNABLE BOOK is not a short, quick read -- it is one to read over a few days, savoring each of the mini stories in the main story.  Figuring out who are the actual suspects and if they will succeed in their endeavors kept me turning the pages.  And Holsinger’s characters are just wonderfully crafted.  By the end of the book I’d felt like I’d spent time in their company.

I highly recommend A BURNABLE BOOK and look forward to Mr. Holsinger’s next read.

"This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book."

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