The Geographer’s Library is a literary novel that borrows a lot of chops from the current suspense thriller field. Or maybe it’s a thriller that has an easy, literary approach to character and plot. As I was reading the book I couldn’t make up my mind.
As with a lot of novels coming out these days, the novel concerns a conspiracy and a lot of historical references. It also touches on one of the most talked about mystical items in human history. Even Harry Potter dealt with this object.
The book is Jon Fasman’s only novel so far, but from everything I’ve seen, he should have a long, comfortable career ahead of him. His down-home voice, imagery, research, and attention to detail will bring fans to his writing.
The story is a first-person narrative by a young reporter on a Connecticut paper. Paul Tomm basically intends for the job he’s currently working to be merely a steppingstone to bigger and better things for himself. His relationship with his editor and his wife is one of the highlights of the book. The way they acted around each other, the way the editor took a mentoring role, and the easy, natural dialogue was truly effective. It made me feel like I was peeking in at the newspaper that was probably put out in Mayberry. And that’s a positive thin.
Paul has to “create” news to a degree in the small town, but he doesn’t want to sensationalize anything. However, not everything in a small town is small, as Paul finds out. He’s assigned to do the obituary on a one of the local college professor and finds much more than he bargained for.
Professor Jann Puhapaev has a whole other life that no one in town knew about. When Paul goes to his house, he finds scores of books on all kinds of topics. The collection easily pushes past passion into the field of dark obsession. As Paul pokes around, he gets caught up in an obsession of his own. Who was Professor Puhapaev? And was someone out to kill him?
Following up on the story with his mentor’s blessing, Paul soon uncovers more than he can handle. The editor also calls in larger papers to back the story as Paul find out more of the truth and realizes that it’s an international story, complete with internationally scaled villains. The pathologist that the editor calls in to do a deeper autopsy on Puhapaev ends up dying in an accident. And things get weirder and more dangerous from there.