Alison's Reviews > The Geographer's Library

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman
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it was ok

I need to read something else, not a mystery, by this author. I was pleasantly surprised when bits of his writing were clever and slyly funny, especially in the main character's first person assessment of himself. But the mystery aspects of this book were not great. The first couple hundred pages are slow going, though interspersed with interesting vignettes about various alchemy-related antiquities. At first, these side stories are the most engaging part of the book, but the early stages of the plot are stretched pretty thin to accommodate so many artifact chapters.

But then, once the story begins to take shape, the intercalary chapters become disjointed and distracting to the unfolding drama. I started skimming as it became clear that the objects weren't going to play an important part in the resolution of the story. I was kind of hoping for an action scene that involved all the antiquities - and the ancient chess piece goes up his nose! And he gets a paper cut from the ancient playing cards! (Okay, that would have been silly. But after so much time talking about the objects, the main character definitely needed to interact with them.)

And the book ends with a minor character holding the hero at gunpoint while leisurely explaining the crime, plus several hundred years of back story. I understand that it must be difficult for a mystery writer to weave the explanations into the narrative in a creative way, but really, Jon Fasman didn't try any harder than putting two guys in a room together and having them talk about the plot for a few hours.

So some odd stumbling blocks for an otherwise interesting and well researched premise.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 10, 2008 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey Once again, I totally agree with your review. I was utterly disappointed by this book, and it had so much potential to be cool! I like a good historical mystery (especially since this one wasn't focused on the Catholic Church or masons or some such), and this one sounded great, but it was a total letdown and I had a hard time finishing it.

Alison Whew! I was actually worried about rating this book two stars since I had borrowed it from you. Not that you said "this is my favorite book of all time and I hope you love it as much as I do” (or even anything positive, now that I think of it). But I didn't want to end our friendship because you put it in four star territory.

I shouldn't have worried - with very few exceptions, I don't think we've been more than one star off in our assessments (and mine are often lower just because I have curmudgeonly streak).

message 3: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey Yeah, I wondered if you would be worried about me being sad about your two-star review, so that's why I commented so quickly :) I guess I was being sort of mean/sneaky in lending this book to you and not really saying anything about it -- I kind of wanted to see if you thought it was lame and disappointing too (this is, I know, similar to making someone smell the milk that you think is spoiled, just to make sure they think it stinks too).

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