The Geographer's Library

  • by Jon Fasman
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 15 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When a 12-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.


What the Critics Say

"One of the year's most literate and absorbing entertainments." (Kirkus Reviews)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brilliant first novel from Jon Fasman.

The "Geographer's Library" is a historically rich debut mystery by Jon Fasman. Readers who enjoy esoteric historical mysteries will really enjoy Fasman's offering and find themselves hooked until the final secrets of the mystery are revealed.

Fasman lays out the story slowly and carefully. His writing is bright, colorful, and intelligent; and it is uniformly interesting in its details and gripping in the mystery that it weaves. The main narrative follows Paul Tomm, a young reporter working for a small-town newspaper. A college professor dies, and Tomm is assigned to write the obituary. Unsurprisingly, Tomm's assignment entails more work than a typical death notice. I will not reveal the details of Tomm's investigation, lest I give away the secrets of the mystery.

Tomm's first-person story alternates with chapters that comprise the contents of a "library" put together by a 12th century figure, nobly named Yussef Hadras ibn Azzam Abd Salih Jafar Khalid Idris. The library chapters detail various exotic objects that have a relation to the practice of alchemy. Each chapter tells a story about the object's origins and its current situation. It is clear that the library contents and Tomm's investigation are intriguing connected.

Fasman takes the reader to many sites around the world. It is a fascinating journey for the reader, involving numerous interesting characters and engrossing situations. The book is a sheer joy to read, not just to find out whodunit, but to enjoy the many stories within the main story. The journey to the end of the tale is as much fun as the tale itself.

In his review in the LA Times, Allen Kurzweil aptly says: "Alchemy, Fasman tells us more than once, is the science of transformation. Good fiction aspires to the same lofty goal, and it is achieved in 'The Geographer's Library,' a cabinet of wonders written by a novelist whose surname and sensibility fit comfortably on the shelf between Umberto Eco and John Fowles." I agree.
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- Harry T

The Geographers Library

The two stories running at the same time was confusing at first. Once I was able to understand what it was all about, it was easier to listen to but it was still a trial. Scott Brick was wonderful as usual. I swear that man could read the phone book and he would hold my interest.
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- Brenda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-28-2005
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio