Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Forger's Daughter

  The Forger's Daughter
Author:  Bradford Morrow
Publication Information:  Mysterious Press. 2020. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0802149251 / 978-0802149251

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "A scream shattered the night."

Favorite Quote:  "'At that moment, as I looked this man in the eye, I was reminded of Hanlon's razor, a philosophical notion that states one should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. It occurred to me just then that, conversely, one ought never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by malice."

Disclaimer: I did not realize until after reading this book that the book is a sequel. While the book can be read on its own, I do feel like I missed connections and some of the story impact without the backstory.

Will and his wife Meghan are spending the sumner at their country house in the Rhinebeck valley 100 miles north of New York City. Meghan runs a bookstore, and Will operates a small literary imprint. Will's speciality though is literary forgery, a skills he has long since buried but most definitely not forgotten. 

A voice from the past - Henry Slader - pulls Will in again. "Had we been collaborators instead of competitors, God knows what satanic masterpieces we might have produced." Under threat, Will agrees to create a forgery of Edgar Allan Poe's Tamerlane. Tamerlane is a poem that tells the story of a Turkish conqueror. The original publication of Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827 was only about 50 copies of about 40 pages printed under the name "A Bostonian." Edgar Allan Poe paid for the the original publication which was done by a young printer named Calvin Thomas. Currently, only twelve copies of this publication are known to exist, making it a valuable literary rarity. The last one sold in 2009 for a price of $662,500.

The story of this book goes that Henry Slader, who is Will's nemesis and the one responsible for severe injuries to Will's hand, has discovered a copy in a private collection. He wants Will to create a forgery such that the original can be "discovered" elsewhere and brought to auction with the proceeds going to all those involved in this nefarious enterprise. Will's adopted daughter Nicole gets involved for her father has taught her his skills, and the teacher has surpassed the student.

The majority of the book deals with the back and forth between Henry Slader and Will and the creation of the forgery itself. It delves into some of Will and Meghan's past. This is the piece I feel I miss out of, not having read the first book. It also provides insight into the world of rare books and the art of letterpress printing. Along with the forgery comes the creation of a fictional provenance to prove "authenticity" of the forgery. As a book lover, I find the details fascinating. Yet, it also renders the slow pace of the book.

The conclusion of the book comes at a fast pace and includes some unexpected events. A murder happens with no repercussions! Self-defense, perhaps? Or self-preservation? Either way, the characters involved are surprising; the calm way in which it is dealt is surprising; the lack of consequence is surprising; and the coverup after is surprising. It takes the book away from the world of rare books and brings it somewhere else all together. It's hard to find a protagonist to cheer for by the end unfortunately. Nevertheless, the book is an intriguing look at the world of rare books.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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