I haven’t read the Da Vinci Code (can you hear my tone of satisfied superiority via text?) — though I think it made a fine movie. I did read Angels & Demons and thought the writing SUCKED but eventually found myself turning the pages for plot. But I have been looking for several years for a good writer of biblio-thrillers — not literary thrillers, which I define as more in the P.D. James, Benjamin Black category — but books where the MacGuffin is a book or a manuscript and a few of the characters are bibliophiles.
I tried Ross King. Ex-Libris was OK but not terrific. I tried Arturo Perez-Reverte. Same verdict for The Club Dumas (though I recommend, for sheer camp value, the movie they made out of it, called The Ninth Gate and starring Johnny Depp as the corrupt, chainsmoking book dealer). Then I looked at Salon’s summer reading recommendations and they were swooning over some guy named Michael Gruber.
The Big Pine branch of the public library has his book The Book of Air and Shadows so I ordered it up and found myself devouring it last week. It’s got it all — character, plot and best of all, smart writing. His new one, The Forgery of Venus, is set in the world of art, not literature, but that’s OK. I’m going to read it anyway.
Speaking of art, and books, here’s an interesting essay on a couple of interesting book artists in an interesting online journal called The Quarterly Conversation. I’m not sure how I feel about destroying the original physical form of books in order to make art, or at least some kind of artistic statement. But hey, I’m not an artist.