The Book of the Lion
A Bibliomystery Short Story by Thomas Perry
Review: When a Chaucer scholar receives a mysterious phone call from a man claiming to be in possession of a lost manuscript — indeed, a manuscript that many believe never even existed — he tries to temper his enthusiasm that it has been found with the fear that he might never have the means to examine it, in The Book of the Lion, a short bibliomystery by Thomas Perry.
The phone calls to Professor Dominic Hallkyn come at random times, but with each succeeding one he is more convinced than ever that the document is real. No demands have been made — yet — but Hallkyn wants to be prepared, and enlists the help of an old friend, T.M. Spanner, a multi-millionaire who Hallkyn believes can be trusted. And more importantly, has the ability to raise a significant amount of cash in a short period of time. Assuming the caller will eventually want money, they try to estimate the document's value and come up with $18 million. Imagine Hallkyn's surprise when the caller requests only $5 million … with a catch. Hallkyn cannot see it, but the caller promises not to destroy it either. Believing that is the best outcome he can hope for now, he arranges for Spanner to raise the amount requested, to be delivered two days later. "Extorting money in exchange for not destroying a missing piece of the world's cultural history is undoubtedly illegal", Spanner tells him. "Destroying it would be worse."
There is a lot of raw tension built up in this short story, and the storyline develops and unfolds in a way that seems reasonable to the reader given the circumstances Hallkyn finds himself in. There would appear to be only one logical outcome to the transaction, especially given what happens during the transfer of cash, and that in and of itself would be a satisfactory conclusion to the story but one hopes that maybe, just maybe there might be an unexpected twist at the end. And indeed there is a twist, but it's not all that unexpected, being rather more of a modest variation on the outcome itself. And that's a little disappointing. On balance, though, The Book of the Lion is a fine entry in this series of "short tales about deadly books" and is recommended.
Acknowledgment: Mysterious Press provided an eARC of The Book of the Lion for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Mysterious Press (Hardcover), March 2012
ISBN-13: 9780802126054; ISBN-10: 0802126057
Location(s) referenced in The Book of the Lion: England; Boston, Massachusetts.
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The Book of the Lion by Thomas Perry — A Bibliomystery Short Story
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: July 2015
List Price: $1.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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