The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett opens in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, where an antiquarian book dealer stumbles upon a Victorian painting that looks exactly like his recently deceased wife. Peter Byerly is not dealing well with his grief and the loss of his wife, and this picture lights a fire inside of him, urging him to figure out where it came from, who painted it, and who is pictured. His quest leads him into a mystery surrounding a potentially history-making rare manuscript, a centuries-old family feud, a blackmail scheme, and murder.
As Peter’s present-day story unfolds, the author uses alternating chapters to also tell us the story of the manuscript and more of Peter and Amanda’s story. The mystery unfolds slowly, and brought to mind chilly, rainy days, crackling fires, musty libraries, and good, strong cups of tea. The Bookman’s Tale is also as much a story about books and the love of books (the older the better) as it is about the characters and plot. It’s a book for booklovers.