A beautiful pocket watch. A mad librarian. An antiquated old man. All of this adds up to a most delightful, enchanting read in Allen Kurzwell's "A Grand Complication".
Literally, I learned of this book yesterday in an e-mail I received from another source. Piquing my interest, I purchased a copy on a whim, and sat down to devour this deliciously juicy story. Part mystery, part literary banter, part biography, this book brings us reference librarian Alexander Short, who is short on his marriage, his job, and his obsessive note taking. Approached in the first chapter by Henry James Jesson III, who asks for his help in solving a personal mystery, Short becomes a Burt Ward to the older man's Bruce Wayne as they puzzle out the reason for an empty cupboard in a cabinet of wonders.
This story is brisk, engaging, and entertaining. Literally filled with literary puns and some literary references that I didn't understand, the story moves along in a very bright way. I was fascinated by Alexander Short. He's both brilliant and somewhat manic, and somehow really, truly understood him. Mid in the book, he gets a phrase stuck in his head that is stuck in mine as well, "Santo Domingo, Caracas, Miami, Divorce". Rich.
Rarely do I find a book that captures me so and refuses to be put down, but "A Grand Complication" does just that. By the time you hit the final page, you'll be sad that this rich tale is over.