<b>The Geographer's Library</b>Fasman's debut novel has all the makings of a classic literary thriller. The geographer in question is Al-Idrisi, a philosopher and scholar of Spanish-Muslim descent whose specialty was maps, and who attended the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1154. Al-Idrisi once owned a valuable collection of devices that he used in the practice of alchemy, but the devices were stolen. Paralleling this historical narrative is the contemporary story of Paul Tomm, a journalist from Connecticut. Paul is writing an obituary of Jaan Puhapaev, an eccentric, elderly professor with a mysterious past. As Paul learns more about his subject, it becomes clear that the man had some connection to the alchemical instruments. Indeed, as Paul discovers, the devices have a long provenance all their own, involving previous owners and sinister happenings. Paul's involvement in the case deepens when he meets a beautiful music teacher named Hannah, who has her own interest in the stolen instruments. Linking all of these details is a dangerous gang of international smugglers. With elements of romance and suspense, and settings as varied as Estonia, Iran and Italy, this sophisticated mystery marks the arrival of a talented new novelist. Similar in tone to <i>The Da Vinci Code</i>, Fasman's new book is sure to please fans of the academic mystery genre.
<i>A reading group guide is available online at http://us.penguingroup.com.</i>