Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Left Turn at Paradise

Kerry Hammond reviews Left Turn at Paradise: A Rare Book Mystery...

Left Turn at Paradise by Thomas Shawver is the second in the Rare Book Mystery Series featuring ex-lawyer and antiquarian book dealer Michael Bevan. In this installment, Michael leaves Kansas City, where he runs his bookshop Riverrun, and heads to the California International Book Fair in San Francisco, hoping to sell some of his collection. Right before he leaves, he goes into the attic to find a briefcase and sees a package that he hasn’t laid eyes on in 20 years. It’s a journal written by a one of the crew members who traveled with Captain James Cook in 1768 that he found hidden in a rolltop desk left to him by an old neighbor.

Bevan takes the Cook journal with him to the book fair, where he knows he will be able to show it to some experts and get a value. He is introduced to a collector, Adrian Hart, who owns a second journal written by the same seaman, and tells Bevan of a third that is supposed to be in existence—which purports to reveal details from Cook’s final voyage and unknown information about his death. When both Bevan’s and Adrian’s journals are stolen in San Francisco, Bevan thinks he’s out of luck and goes back home. When he later hears from Adrian’s business partner, Penelope Wilkes, that the two stolen journals have been sighted in New Zealand, he hops on a plane with her to locate them. What follows is an adventure through the remotest parts of New Zealand, full of nature, intrigue, and dangerous natives with even more dangerous customs.

This premise of this book (lost journals chronically Captain Cook’s voyage) was extremely interesting. It’s the kind of book that when you put it down at the end, you immediately go to your computer to research the subject matter—assuming you can wait until you reach the end. I know nothing about New Zealand, its native people, or its history and customs. I found the time the character spent there fascinating. I love to travel through reading, but this book took me places I never dreamed of seeing and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

The author did a great job of describing the location and I really felt like I was there, inside the caves and in the wilderness. Bevan is a very unique personality and his past, and present, are extremely interesting and well written. This is a very unique and entertaining series. Let’s hope there are many more installments.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when a book makes me want to research - I'm a huge fan of being inspiring to learn new things by the books I read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.