By: Beverly Swerling
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publishing Date: April 2013
Reviewed By: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 2013
This book begins as Annie Kendall, a historian, working for the Shalom Foundation, arrives in London to begin her research. She has been hired to look up and defend the facts behind treasures that are said to connect to the ancient Second Temple of Jerusalem, treasures that were hidden during the reign of King Henry VIII by a person who called himself the Jew of Holbern. This is going to prove, according to Annie, that she is back in business again. Annie is doing this assignment for personal reasons as she is a recovering alcoholic and is trying to rebuild her career by finding proof of the existence of the Jew of Holborn and thus proving her renewed ability to work.
The fun begins as Annie investigates her newly-rented apartment at Bristol House. When she opens a door into a small room in her apartment and discovers a Monk praying with morning light streaming in the window and she knows that it is not morning, but afternoon, she immediately knows something is up. She thinks that she is hallucinating and slams the door on him, opening it again in a few minutes to find that there is no Monk. The following day Annie meets Geoffrey Harris, a TV investigative journalist who is the spitting image of the Monk who she saw in her apartment. When Annie and Geoff meet it’s on Geoff’s terms as he is on a story to reveal that the motive behind the Shalom Foundation, funded by Phillip Weinraub, an American billionaire, is not on the up and up.
The story hops back and forth from the 21st century to the 16th century, and while some stories that jump between time periods tend to be difficult to follow, Bristol House is very understandable. There is so much history in Tudor England and there have been many books written about that period, but this one is definitely a bit different. The disappearing Monk keeps coming back to try and tell Annie which directions to take regarding her work and Geoff and Annie start to kindle a little romance as they find they are on the same side. For readers interested in Tudor history involving the politics and religious angles, it’s a real find as the author has researched this story very carefully. All events in the story, along with Bristol House itself are written to make the reader feel as if they are in the midst of all the happenings as the story shifts back and forth in time.
Quill says: Readers will have to pay close attention to remember it all as the author presents a saga that will keep your interest for many hours of good reading.