Mary Bloodworth's Reviews > The School of Night

The School of Night by Louis Bayard
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May 02, 11

Read from April 25 to May 01, 2011

Thank you Louis Bayard for writing another historical mystery! It was truly fun to read this, and the wait was worth it.

Unfortunately, I can't do much summarizing of the story because the twists and turns begin shortly into the book, and I don't want to give anything away. The main character is Henry Cavendish, a down on his luck professor. His college friend Alonzo Wax has killed himself, and Henry is appointed the executor of the estate. Alonzo was an eccentric book and manuscript collector. (he reminded me of Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces, so particular and fussy that you wonder why people bothered with him). At the funeral, Henry is approached by another collector, one Bernard Styles, who says that Alonzo had a manuscript that belonged to Styles, and if Henry would retrive it he would receive a healthy payment. Henry, direly in need of money, accepts.

From there things get infinitely more complicated and dangerous. There were a number of plot twists that I didn't see coming, much to Bayard's credit. The book alternates between the present day and London in 1603, following Thomas Harriot. The dual storylines aren't as jarring as you might think, and they each made the other more enjoyable.
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