Friday , February 23 2024
The fabled library of Constantinople surfaces, becoming the vortex of a deadly struggle.

Book Review: The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds

There were, in the ancient times, a number of splendid libraries that vanished in various disastrous ways, their volumes never to be recovered: the libraries of Alexandria, Athens, and Antioch were all destroyed, their collections burned up or scattered into oblivion. Each such loss constituted a blow to human knowledge, warping man's image of the past to conform with the ideas present in the pages of the manuscripts that existed outside of these collections. The last of these fabulous ancient libraries, the Imperial Library of Constantinople, was maintained by the Byzantine Emperor and the disposition of its collection is the stuff of legends, for when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman armies in 1453, the library's manuscripts vanished but were not destroyed. Some believed the Byzantine library's volumes had surfaced in Moscow and became the possession of Ivan the Terrible. After his death, many searched for this treasure, including agents of the Vatican, but their efforts were frustrated.

The possibility of recovering other, unknown manuscripts that would give us a new picture of our past is the essence of the thrill associated with searching for and finding such a library in tact. In her latest novel, The Book of Spies, Gayle Lynds taps into that excitement of finding lost literary treasures: This fabulous library indeed exists and is in the possession of a clandestine book club comprised of a cabal of the globe's most powerful men.

But don't let all this talk of books and libraries lull you into thinking that The Book of Spies is boring. Far from it, Lynds packs these pages full of action and suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages for more delights, thrills and surprises. The first chapter is murder — the secret library can be a dangerous place. The second sends the heroine Eva Blake, a rare books curator, to prison for a crime she did not commit. And the third has the characters in the cross hairs of a sniper.

Betrayal and clandestine plots swirl around the missing volumes and the location of the library itself as a black-ops CIA cell lead by Tucker Anderson attempts to find the link between the legendary library and a bank account linked to terrorists. The Book of Spies is an entertaining action thriller with a MacGuffin at its core.

About A. Jurek

A Jurek is a Blogcritics contributor.

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