John's Reviews > The Geographer's Library

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman
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This is a book I salivated over before reading. In the event I enjoyed it quite a lot, though it didn't fully live up to my probably somewhat overinflated expectations. Paul Tomm is a junior reporter for and in fact almost the entire reportorial staff of a small-town Connecticut newspaper. He's told to do an obituary when reclusive and distinctly odd local university professor Jaan Puhapaev dies, and his nascent journalistic antenna goes into overdrive -- or whatever it is journalistic antennae do when their owners get suspicious -- especially when the pathologist who was examining the body dies in a mysterious hit-and-run. In his efforts to show both prof and pathologist were murdered, Paul sort of halfway unravels the mystery in the midst of a brief but torrid love affair with the dead prof's next-door neighbour. Interspersed within the main tale are shortish sections tracing the histories of a "library" of alchemical artefacts which, together, drive an enormous backstory of which Paul, and the reader, will only ever be able to discover a small part.

This is a very well told book, and for the most part I was turning the pages steadily (although I confess I skipped occasional pages where the author was essentially listing, catalogue-style, the alchemical attributes of the artefacts). Trouble is, I've read quite a few books written with this general structure over the past few years, and far too few of them seem to do anything with the juxtaposition they present of ancient and modern, as it were. The Geographer's Library really doesn't stand up as a mystery novel, and I'm not sure it does either as the intellectual exercise we're supposed to think it is. Certainly it's worth the time of reading, but it's not the humdinger I'd hoped for.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
April 15, 2009 – Shelved

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