cover image The Book of Lamps and Banners

The Book of Lamps and Banners

Elizabeth Hand. Mulholland, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-48592-0

The discovery of an ancient book of arcane lore bound in human skin and possibly written by Aristotle drives Hand’s enjoyable if at times overplotted fourth Cass Neary thriller (after 2016’s Hard Light). Cass, a middle-aged punk photographer hooked on alcohol and pills, is lying low in London on a false passport and desperate for money to get her and her boyfriend, Quinn, out of the country. On learning of the book’s sale to an eccentric video game designer, Cass realizes that cutting herself in on the deal might just solve their problems. The buyer, Tindra Bergrstrand, needs the book to complete an app that can alter the user’s mental state and trigger powerful, sometimes violent emotional memories. When the book is stolen from the dealer and Tindra disappears, Cass begins a frantic search to locate both Tindra and the book. The action hurtles toward an exciting climax on an island off the Swedish coast. That this adventure ends for once on a positive note for Cass, who so far has been living on an addict’s ragged edge, will please series fans. Newcomers will find this a good entry point. Agent: Martha Millard, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.)