Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

This isn’t the kind of book I would normally choose but something about it called to me from a charity shop bookshelf; probably the fact that it is about a bookshop!

Essentially, the plot revolves around a young man – Clay Jannon – stumbling into a night-shift job at the eponymous bookshop.  The bookshop is an old mysterious play with not many customers although those there are, are odd.

To amuse himself Clay designs a 3D computer model of the bookshop and unwittingly cracks a code.

The book then becomes more of a thriller than a book about a bookshop.

I enjoyed about 2/3 of this book.  Mr Penumbra, Clay and Clay’s random assortment of friends are quite engaging and I liked the way Clay pulled his network together to help solve the problems they faced.

I liked the descriptions of the bookshop as well.  It’s the kind of place I like to visit and I could almost smell that lovely, musty old book scent from the descriptions.

I didn’t like the last 1/3 of the book.  I felt it all got a bit silly and ridiculous.  It almost felt as though one person had written the first part, put it away for a decade or so and then either come back to finish it having evolved into a different person or got someone else to finish writing it.  I feel slightly cheated by it; I found the first parts absorbing and looked forward to picking my book up again only to hit loony tunes-ville in the last part.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, but, a bit like A Suitable Boy, with reservations about the ending.

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