cover image The Mirror Thief

The Mirror Thief

Martin Seay. Melville House (PRH, dist.), $29.95 (592p) ISBN 978-1-61219-514-8

Seay’s debut novel is a true delight, a big, beautiful cabinet of wonders that is by turns an ominous modern thriller, a supernatural mystery, and an enchanting historical adventure story. The first stop is present-day Las Vegas, where an ex-Marine turned manhunter named Curtis Stone descends into the Strip’s seedy underworld to track a famous gambler named Stanley Glass through the prefab canals of the Venetian-themed hotel and casino, but finds instead a mysterious book called The Mirror Thief. On that note, the narrative jumps back to 1958 in Venice Beach, at the dawn of the Beat poetry scene, where Stanley is a small-time con artist obsessed with the enigmatic Adrian Welles, author of The Mirror Thief. Finally, and most sensationally, readers are treated to the subject of Welles’s book himself, the man called Crivano, who in 1592 embarks on a dangerous mission in the Italian Venice, gorgeously rendered as a fantasia of conspirators, alchemists, and heretics caught between the dangers of plague and the Inquisition. Without realizing it, Crivano, Stanley, and Curtis are searching for the same thing: the mystery hidden behind mirrors (both literal and figurative), through which, as Welles writes, “you meet the stranger you have always been.” In sum, this is a splendid masterpiece, to be loved like a long-lost friend, an epic with near-universal appeal. (May)