The Book of Air and Shadows

Written by Michael Gruber
Review by Troy Reed

Gruber takes readers on a wild ride in this satisfying tale of double-crossings, murders, and intrigue. The lives of two very different men are thrust together when their paths cross unexpectedly. Jake Mishkin, an intellectual property lawyer, and Albert Crosetti, an aspiring filmmaker and antiquarian bookseller, find their worlds turned upside down when a rare bookstore is consumed by flames and the letters of Richard Bracegirdle, an English spy and soldier from the 16th century, are discovered.

Bracegirdle’s ciphered letters found in a rare book reveal that there exists an undiscovered manuscript by William Shakespeare. These letters prompt Mishkin and Crosetti to travel to England in search of the lost manuscript, an item sure to set the literary world on its toes. In their quest to retrieve the lost work of Shakespeare, the men must deal with persons and events from the underbelly of society—Russian gangsters, kidnappings, murders, and more.

With a complex, smart, and engaging plot, Gruber keeps readers guessing and on the edge of their seats. Rare manuscripts and cryptography make this novel a dream come true for bibliophiles. Written in the distinct voices of the three men and alternating between the past and present, Gruber treats readers to snippets of the personal lives of Mishkin, Crosetti, and Bracegirdle, making these flawed characters all the more believable. The Book of Air and Shadows is a superb blend of history and the present day, complete with a blood-pounding climax that is hard to beat.