Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Time Devours - A. J. Hartley

What Time Devours
A. J. Hartley


High school English teacher Thomas Knight (last seen in ON THE FIFTH DAY) is up before dawn, as usual. What’s not usual is the face peering in at him, outside his kitchen window. It takes a moment to register the fact that the woman is dead. It takes longer to realize that someone had to drag her into the yard and prop her up that way. The police have no idea, and find no ID; only a scrap of paper with Thomas’ address on it.

One of Thomas’ former students works as an agent for a literary publisher. He calls Thomas and asks for a meeting at his hotel. Once there, Thomas is stunned to see David Escolme, in a complete panic. He’s torn up his hotel room searching for something. He tells Thomas that what’s missing is a transcribed manuscript for a previously unknown Shakespeare play, Love’s Labour’s Won. The monetary value of such a work would be nearly incalculable, to say nothing of the scholarly value. From that moment, the race is on to not only find the missing copy, but to attempt to authenticate the work.

It’s not often you find a literate, literary thriller, but the author has outdone himself this time. The action moves from Thomas’ home base in Chicago to various cities around Europe, and, of course, to Stratford, home of the bard himself. The novel starts off with the truly disturbing ‘dead face in the window’ scene, and really kicks off after the hotel meeting. From there, the pace is fast and even throughout the novel. A few scenes require some suspension of disbelief, but overall, this is quite a ride. Devotees of Shakespeare will enjoy this novel on an extra level, but you don’t have to love his plays or poems to enjoy this fast-paced thriller.

Rating: 8
January 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22623-0 (paperback)


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