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  • Mandy McHugh

The Book of Lamps and Banners, Elizabeth Hand: A Review

3.5 Stars I'm a sucker for a hot pink cover, and after reading the interesting blurb, I was thrilled to be approved. Some of my favorite Insta bookstagrammers have been talking about this one recently, so I quickly dove in.

Cass is keeping a low profile as she tries to figure out her next move. Drinking too much, doing too many drugs, and concerned about a former flame, Quinn, she ducks into a bookstore and runs into one of her old friends who is about to conduct a sale of a rare, very important book. But the deal goes south when the buyer turns up dead with strange symbols on his forehead. What follows is a Da Vinci Code-esque mystery, Cass and a collection of motley characters with targets on their backs, searching for the stolen Book of Lamps and Banners. So before I get too far ahead of myself, I will say that I didn't know this book was the fourth in a series when I started reading it. It can be incredibly hard to start in the middle of something, and I was concerned that too much would be lost with three previous books, but Hand does a great job of giving enough information about the past without dragging the plot with summaries. You get that Cass has had a difficult past, has made some tough choices, and is wanted. I'm sure reading her previous adventures would give her character more layered motivational understanding and a deeper investment in her success, but you do not need to have this knowledge to enjoy TBOLAB. The mystery itself is fun. I enjoyed the kind of rough-and-tumble atmosphere with characters who aren't your typical scholar stereotype. Having read another book this year about the black market of book sales, I loved the attention Hand paid to counterfeit book details and the realm of rare book collecting. The search for the book and the underlying purpose of TBOLAB was also an interesting twist. I find coding fascinating, and Tindra's character gave an eclectic, sharp edge to what finding the book could do. While some sections of this read a little dense and repetitive, I enjoyed the way the story unraveled and would definitely read the next installment in the series. Cass is a great character with a lot of potential. A little Lisbeth Salandar, a little Tom Hanks in professor mode, I think a lot of readers will have fun with this one. Big thanks to Mulholland and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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