Naturally, if you come across a title like this, you think of Dan Brown. But Grossman is playing in an altogether different league, although he certainly knows about the connotation, as he worked as a book critic for several American newspapers, before he changed sides and wrote this his first own book.
His protagonist Edward Wozny is a hotshot young banker, who has secured a promotion to London and is now between jobs, his first vacation.
Via his firm he is approached by the wife of an extremely rich, extremely mysterious British aristocrat, who engages him to catalogue the ancient family library. It is conveniently stored in the middle of New York, so Edward soon finds himself in an otherworldly dark hall on top of a building, where the antique books are stored in crates. His mysterious client is looking for the lost “Codex”, a tale of early travels from the 14th century.
Edward meets Margaret Napier, a young scholar, who writes her thesis about exactly the author of the lost book. What a coincidence! But Edward does not notice the implications. He kind of lets things happen to him, just like a computer game his best friend Zeph introduces him to. He becomes addicted to the game as well as the quest for the codex, and it is no surprise that in the end he loses everything, and Margaret, too.
What makes the story special is Grossman exquisite style, his love for eclectic words, just like William Boyd in“armadillo”.