In 2008, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. was approached by a man who wanted to have his copy of the First Folio authenticated. Raymo...moreIn 2008, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. was approached by a man who wanted to have his copy of the First Folio authenticated. Raymond Rickett Scott, a British citizen, who claimed to have procured this copy in Cuba from one of Fidel Castro’s bodyguards, caused a bit of a sensation with this request. Even at the Folger, it’s not every day that someone just shows up out of the blue with a previously unknown copy of the First Folio.
The printing of Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623 gave birth to somewhere between 750 and 1,000 copies of one of the most coveted rare books in the world. Now, almost 400 years later, only 232 copies are known to remain; and Shakespearean scholars, bibliophiles and collectors around the globe yearn to possess, examine, or simply be in the presence of a copy of this seminal work.
Eric Rasmussen, a noted Shakespearean scholar and a team of First Folio hunters have spent more than a decade traveling the world tracking down as many of these 232 copies as possible. Their goal was to create a definitive record of every existing First Folio, detailing page measurements, binding elements, and every single identifying watermark, tear, stain and bit of marginalia on each and every page.
The scholarly result of all that work is “The Shakespeare First Folios: a Descriptive Catalog,” an incredibly detailed and thoroughly exhaustive creation that is of invaluable assistance to scholars, book dealers, and researchers. The more entertaining result of all that work is “The Shakespeare Thefts,” a collection of accounts regarding the long history of deception, greed, obsession, and thievery that have surrounded the First Folio for centuries.
Rasmussen covers a fascinating history filled with compelling tales, from the eccentricities of First Folio owners to the numerous thefts to the copy unintentionally stolen by the Pope, “The Shakespeare Thefts” is sure to interest not just serious Shakespeare scholars but anyone with a taste for history and literature.
And that previously undiscovered copy presented at the Folger? Stolen. From Durham University in England in 1998, and identified by its unique measurements and a missing triangular piece of paper as distinctive as a fingerprint (less)
The death of a child is always a tragedy, but when a young life ends in murder, snuffed out before their life has even really begun, it’s almost unbea...moreThe death of a child is always a tragedy, but when a young life ends in murder, snuffed out before their life has even really begun, it’s almost unbearable, for the family, the friends, and the community of the victim.
When 14 year old Ben Rifkin is found stabbed to death, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is assigned the investigation, and he is determined to find and prosecute Ben’s killer to the fullest extent of the law. With little evidence to go on and a frustrating wall of silence from Ben’s classmates, Andy’s attention is drawn to a convicted pedophile in the area, and he is certain that this must be Ben’s murderer.
So when Andy gets the news that his own son Jacob, one of Ben’s classmates, is being charged with his murder, he is stunned and alarmed. As a prosecutor, he knows exactly how the legal system can fail, and he is not about to let his son be blamed for something he did not do.
Determined to prove his son’s innocence, Andy investigates the case on his own and uncovers some disturbing revelations about his child, and when he is forced to reveal a dark secret of his own, Andy knows his relationship with his wife and son will never be the same.
As the book progresses, it becomes clear that Andy is retelling the story of Jacob’s arrest and trial as someone who has lived through it and already knows the outcome. Intertwined with his narration are bits of courtroom testimony from Andy as he is questioned about the events surrounding Jacob’s arrest and trial, and it is clear that there is far more to this story than what appears on the surface.
With Andy as the unreliable narrator, it’s difficult to know what part of his story is accurate and what part is colored by his bias for his son. Andy is absolutely unwavering in his belief of his son’s innocence, despite any amount of circumstantial evidence, troubling revelations or doubts from his wife in their son’s innocence.
“Defending Jacob” is at once a mystery, a courtroom drama, and a tale of family bonds; and Landay deftly brings all of these genres together in a wholly engrossing narrative. He doles out the details of the case slowly, a bit here and snippet there, building the suspense and bringing more ambiguity to Andy’s narration with every turn of the page. It’s a masterful way to plot a story, and it culminates in a completely shattering conclusion that you will not see coming. (less)
Boston homicide detective D.D. Warren has investigated quite a few murders in her career, but she’s never been asked to solve a murder before it’s eve...moreBoston homicide detective D.D. Warren has investigated quite a few murders in her career, but she’s never been asked to solve a murder before it’s even happened. While outside the crime scene of a murdered pedophile, D.D. encounters a woman who claims she’s going to be killed in four days, and she wants D.D. to investigate her impending death.
Charlie Grant has spent the last year preparing herself for the day of her death. Two years before, one of her closest childhood friends was murdered; and though the tragedy devastated her, it wasn’t until her other childhood friend was killed a year to the day later in the exact same manner that Charlie began to suspect she might be next. With four days left until the anniversary, Charlie’s year of obsessive training in self-defense, firearms and hand to hand combat still might not be enough to save her, especially when all evidence points to a killer who somehow murders with no resistance at all from the victims.
Skeptical of Charlie’s story, D.D. still agrees to look into her friends’ murders, but as she delves deeper into Charlie’s background, she uncovers a terrible history of childhood abuse and trauma. A victim of Munchausen by Proxy, Charlie escaped life with her mentally disturbed mother and was raised by a loving aunt, but the early years of violence and manipulation took their toll on Charlie and left her with problems of her own.
D.D’s initial suspicions of Charlie are raised even higher when evidence from a series of crimes involving murdered pedophiles seems to point in her direction, and Charlie’s claims are getting harder and harder to believe. Is she an innocent victim or a calculating perpetrator? With only days left to uncover the truth, D.D. must stay focused on the investigation if she wants to catch Charlie or save her.
Gardner has delivered a tightly-plotted, fast paced thriller that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. “Catch Me” is the 6th book in the D.D. Warren series, but it still works well as a standalone novel. If you’re a fan of D.D. and of Gardner’s other books, you’ll appreciate the appearance of familiar characters and getting caught up with D.D.’s personal life, but newcomers to Gardner’s work shouldn’t worry about being lost. “Catch Me” is an entertaining read, filled with just the right amount of twists and red herrings to keep mystery and thriller fans on their toes. (less)