Friday, August 18, 2017

Crete and its secrets

I guess I'm in a learning mode through mysteries and historical fiction. This book A Most Extraordinary Pursuit (#1 Emmeline Rose Truelove Series) by Juliana Gray, teaches the reader all about archaeological excavations, Knossos, and Greek mythology.

Image result for murals knossosThis unusual mystery revolves around anachronism, but it's really about the search for a lost heir, a lost hero, and the discovery of the truth behind the myth of the Labyrinth at Knossos, Crete. Each chapter begins with an installment of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur or Theseus and Ariadne.

Truelove and Lord Silverton search for Maximilian Haywood, missing heir of the Duke of Olympia. The story thread unravels as Truelove and Silverton sail the Aegean looking for Haywood and, well, Ariadne. From the Palace of Knossos to the caves of Skyros, our intrepid travelers seek the truth about the Minoan murals and the secrets they reveal. The story is a little magical and has a few anachronisms thrown in, but mostly, it’s a great romp through the seas on a steel yacht in 1906.

Written in a 1906 British style, you'll fall in love with Truelove and her companions. 

If you want to know more about deciphering the language, Linear B, that the archaeologist mentions, check out Margalit Fox The Riddle of the Labyrinth 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Learn all about maps and book collecting, and a little theft thrown in

What a wild romp through the NYPL map collections, the research libraries, and bibliomania.  As a librarian who teaches about rare books and worked at NYPL (a long time ago), I couldn't put this book done. I had to stay up late to find out what wonderful twists and turns Fairstein put into the 11th book in her series "Lethal Legacy" (2009).

Fairstein mentions all the important collectors and thieves including E Smiley Forbes, aka Eddy, and the Waldseemuller map, all 12 parts of it, the rarest map in the world

If you want to read more about Smiley, check out the most recent book about himby Michael Blanding The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps (2015)  Blanding's book is about Smiley and also about the history of map making.

If you want a different perspective, that of the history of map theft, you should read Miles Harvey Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime (2000)
Back to Fairstein's book. Since I've been reading through the series and know that Det. Mike Chapman is labeled the historian of the intrepid trio. I was surprised that Fairstein portrays him as never having been to the main NYPL research libraries and that he didn't know the names of the stately lions (Patience and Fortitude for those who don't know). Chapman didn't seem to know how research libraries work. If he graduated Fordham, then he should know. That was the only unbelievable part of the entire book.

Lethal Legacy revolves around a murder, book theft from NYPL, and the search for the Waldseemuller map. The dynamic trio, Chapman, Wallace, and Cooper meet many of the big name collectors in NYC, trustees of NYPL, explore the research library from top to bottom and everywhere in between as they search for the killer(s) and for the map. There are some great scenes of curators pulling books from the collections and searching for 'treasures.'

Book and map lovers will love this book as much as those who are intrigued with NYPL and the history of Manhattan. You'll learn a lot and want to know more. Take a look at the reading list in the acknowledgement pages. Oh my, my reading list just grew longer.