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The Geographer's Library
Item 1: An alembic is the top part of an apparatus used for distilling. This one is made of sturdy green glass, thirty-six centimeters tall, eighteen centimeters around at the widest point of its base. The top part of the vessel is narrow and fluted and turns sharply to the right; alembics are set over a still to collect and carry vapors to a... more »
When a twelfth-century Sicilian cat burglar snatches a sack of artifacts from the king's geographer's library, the tools and talismans of transmutation-and eternal life-are soon scattered all over the world. Nine hundred years later, a young Connecticut reporter finds evidence that someone is collecting them again. In the process of investigating the suspicious death of a local professor, Paul Tomm finds the dead man's heavily fortified office stuffed with books on alchemy. The Geographer's Library entwines his contemporary reporting with a chain of ancient stories-within-the-story, tracking the last time each of the geographer's tools changed hands-some bought, some stolen, some killed for.
The Geographer's Library is an extraordinary debut, smart, stylishly written, and full of suspense. It tempts with the glitter of antiquities and hooks with a chilling plot. In this brilliant debut, competing visions of an obscure professor's life take a young reporter from a sleepy New England town to the heart of an international smuggling ring that may hold the secret to eternal life.