When it’s as hot out as it’s been these past few days, my appetite for food plummets. I stay as far away from the stove as I can, trying to eat the simplest possible fare that requires the least preparation–less is more. With my reading, though, I’m the opposite. When the temperature rises, the more literary ingredients the better. Give me a meaty plot that’s sauced with complex intrigue, pages that positively overflow with incident. Maybe the heat makes my brain expand to leave room for extra helpings? Whatever the reason, it’s been an excellent month for big books and plenitudinous platefuls.
Foremost among my recent reads was the debut novel from Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief. It focuses on a place that’s many places all at once, Venice. In Renaissance Italy, the craftsmen of that city perfect a new technology, the glass mirror, and guard its secrets with deadly strength, which doesn’t prevent a brilliant thief from scheming to steal the arcane knowledge the whole world desires. Centuries later, in the shabby seaside community of Venice Beach, California, a Kerouackian drifter attempts to unlock the mystery of an ancient text–is it fiction or a coded instruction manual?–that relates the thief’s adventures. And in the glitzy, ersatz realm of present-day Las Vegas, gamblers, soldiers of fortune, and mystics gather at the Venetian resort for an explosive final confrontation ... continued