Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Widow's Son: A Rare Book Mystery by Thomas Shawver

To become a rare book seller, you have to have good book stock, buyers for your books, and a stellar reputation.  You must be ethical, honest, and dependable.  Michael is most of those things but hasn't found a rare book monied enough to impress other rare book dealers.  And it takes letters of recommendation to move into the big league of booksellers, ABAA, The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America.  Now he has a chance...

Alibi, Net Galley and Enchanted Book Tours shared this book with me for a review (thank you).  It is being published today, so you can find a copy now.

Mr. Shawver doesn't write a traditional mystery.  I've read several book mysteries.  His discussion of books is fine and he does pick unusual books to highlight, but the actual mystery is not related to books; it's related to Mormon beliefs.  Every church has their radicals but this group is into blood atonement and they are worse than radical; they are fanatics!

The death they are avenging happened hundreds of years ago but they are determined to kill the last survivor of the offending family.  Unfortunately, the first "murderer" sent is a mild man who doesn't really believe the tales he's been told and manages to fall in love with the woman he's supposed to kill.  Failure is not accepted by the avenging family.

In the middle of this mess, Michael is offered a valuable first-edition Book of Mormon that bears a strange inscription hinting at blood atonement.  If he can sell it for a reasonable value, the Mormon and the targeted woman can disappear.  Michael thinks it will be his way in the door of the ABAA, so he returns to the lady he first spoke to about joining.  She asks to keep the book so she can have authenticated.  He agrees.  Her house burns down that night with her and her help both dying...

Now he has a missing valuable book, an obligation to make his offer good, and then Natalie gets kidnapped.  What more could happen?  It gets even more exciting before the story ends.  I think I would have liked it more if it didn't have so much Mormon history in it, but that addition was what created the mystery.  These books are always a bit intense and this one was also.  Not everyone gets out alive...

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