“Book of Souls” by Glenn Cooper
The fate of a mysterious volume lost for six centuries.
Will Piper, ex-FBI Agent, of the earlier “Secret of the Seventh Son”, is a curious guy, in both senses of the word. A cad and a drinker, and bad ex-husband, he’s supposedly chastened in his new marriage and fatherhood. But the return of a thrilling case involving an ultra-secret government installation in Nevada, where an ancient library is buried , lures him out of retirement. One particular book has enticingly escaped from that literary tomb, and a London auction brings it into Will’s hands. Dated l527, the book ominously alludes to 9, Feb. 2027—then very distant, now very near. Predictions made way back when eerily foretell the death dates of people living today. Cooper’s prose roams across centuries; in the modern thriller era he delivers the arid language of ‘downloads’ and ‘databases’ and some hip sarkiness. But then in the l300-l500’s parts he makes the luscious antique words and sensibilities of monks, Nostradamus, and Shakespeare himself blossom forth out of discovered manuscripts.The most compelling part of the book takes place at Cantwell Hall where the auctioned book came from. Still-naughty Will connects with Isabelle, granddaughter of the owner of that Stately Home, and amid, yes, sex and drinking they follow clues hidden in candlesticks and behind tiles in musty, scary nooks revealing secrets and treasures.
“A melancholy was descending. He was tired, he was disappointed that he was getting his old cravings back. The bottle of scotch was still up in his room. As his mind wandered so did his eyes. One of the blue-and-white Delft tiles lining the fireplace caught his eye. It was a charming scene of a mother walking through a field with a bundle of twigs under one arm and her toddler son on the other. She looked perfectly happy. She probably wasn’t married to a bastard like him, he thought.” — Page l59