The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett was given to me by a friend who knows my bookish weaknesses. The book opens in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales (see: bookish weakness, stories set in Great Britain), 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 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. I enjoyed the alternating time periods and point of views, the reveal of more layers to both Peter and the mystery. The author is also clearly a rare books officianado himself, because this story is 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.
For a mystery, the pace was a bit slow, but personally I don't think that detracted from the story at all. I actually enjoyed it. Reading the book brought to mind chilly, rainy days, crackling fires, musty libraries, and good strong cups of tea. In a word: yes, please! (okay, that's two words)