Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bristol House

My goal is to read 100 book by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 33.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for the opportunity to read this book.

Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

A blend of historical fiction and supernatural mystery, this book is told from three alternating viewpoints in two time periods.
In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica.  Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work.  He's also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.
In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished.  In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets.  Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to solve - at their own peril.

My opinion:
I figured out very early in the book that I wouldn't be able to predict what would happen, mainly because I didn't know enough about the subjects to see the significance of clues before it was laid out for me.  A lack of knowledge didn't take anything away from the book for me, thanks to the writing style of the author.  Although she rightly assumed most readers would need things spelled out pretty clearly to follow the plot, she was able to keep the reveals surprising by presenting the information organically throughout the story.  

I would call this book a "thinking man's mystery" (along the same lines as books by Dan Brown), and recommend it if you like mysteries with heft.  I enjoyed it and will definitely look for other books by this author.

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