Monday, July 5, 2010
Review: Drake's Bay by T.A. Robert
Book Source: Free Library of Philadelphia
My Rating: 93/100
Recommended By: Jenna A from Luxury Reading
On a quiet Sunday morning in San Francisco, scholar Ethan Storey and his girlfriend are touring an open house in the hills. It is an archive of rare books and Ethan comes to believe that the rarest of the rare may be here: the logbooks of the 1577–1580 world voyage of Sir Francis Drake. These have been lost to history—suppressed by Queen Elizabeth, who thought they contained the state secrets of the Northwest Passage. Where had Drake sailed? A brass plate purportedly left behind by Drake near San Francisco Bay and found in the 1930s had been accepted as genuine, then exposed as fraud, re-validated and exposed again. It was always suspected that the actual records of the voyage might still exist, and if found would make the plate, validated, a treasure for its owner. But if the powerful California family that held the “plate of brass” was desperate for cash, yet would rather destroy the logbooks than see them made public, something else must be going on.
The logbooks are the nexus of a contemporary story of greed as violent and conspiratorial as anything in the sixteenth century. As Ethan, a university professor in midlife with doubts about his much younger lover, searches for the logs, he also discovers much more about her, his emotionally detached father, and the power of historical events to shape our lives.
I read a review of this book over at Luxury Reading and instantly requested it from the library. I was not disappointed. The story opens with an innocent tour of an odd looking house, the Williams Institute in the hills of San Francisco. The Institute has an extensive private book collection, which is in dire need of a historian to help assess its value. In the blink of an eye history professor Ethan Storey decides to help and just as quickly he is drawn into a mystery regarding Sir Francis Drake's lost log books.
All in all this was a delightful book and I was surprised at how the mystery worked out. I will certainly look into the author's previous books and if Professor Storey makes another appearance, I'm there.
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