The Forgers by Bradford Morrow: ‘It takes a lot of truth to tell a lie’

Cover image for The Forgers by Bradford MorrowReaders blessed with excellent memories may recall I mentioned Bradford Morrow’s The Forger’s Daughter in a November preview. I put up my hand but for some reason wasn’t sent a copy then I noticed its precursor on NetGalley. Not my favourite way to read but by this time I was all primed and ready for what sounded like an entertaining bookselling mystery. Set in the rare book world, Morrow’s novel follows a forger whose beloved’s brother has been murdered in a particularly grisly way.

Adam Diehl miraculously survives being wacked over the head before having his hands chopped off but only for a few days. His sister is distraught. Orphaned as children, they were very close, sharing a love of books – Meghan running a small bookshop, Adam collecting rare volumes and possibly dabbling in a little forgery or at least that’s what Meghan’s lover Will has surmised. Will excels in calligraphy, enhancing the value of rare editions by adding beautifully wrought inscriptions and autographs. He’s a reformed character after being caught and convicted, generously bailed out by a dealer who stood by him despite having been sold several pieces of Will’s work. When the police fail to solve Adam’s murder, Will sets about his own investigations all of which point him at one man with whom he becomes embroiled in a cat and mouse game which may well lead him back into his old ways.

You’re a Sherlock Holmes man, must drive you up the wall that there aren’t his kind around these days to make things right  

Morrow narrates this enjoyable literary whodunnit through Will, a pleasingly unreliable narrator as you might expect from a man who’s made his living from pulling the wool over a multitude of eyes. Morrow has a great line in chapter openers while throwing in some teasing cliff hangers at their ends now and again. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing is Will’s favourite, both to read and to forge, and the great detective’s spectre hovers over the novel. As ever this is a spoiler-free zone, always tricky with crime novels, but suffice to say I enjoyed recalling the clues liberally scattered through the narrative.

A satisfying, undemanding way to while away a few reading hours, The Forgers is the kind of novel I’m happy to read electronically, something that I’ve resisted until our current predicament made print editions harder to come by. Good old-fashioned storytelling works reasonably well in this format for me but when it comes to reading for the joy of writing, there’s no substitute for paper. Any other readers turned to ebooks over the pandemic and if so, are you now a convert or do you find them wanting?

Grove Press UK: London 97816118546020 256 pages Paperback (Read via NetGalley)

22 thoughts on “The Forgers by Bradford Morrow: ‘It takes a lot of truth to tell a lie’”

  1. Paper all the way for me. It is not just the words but the whole book package for me. And I do seem to have bought a lot this year! It just cheers me up. Planning a trip to Hay come December. Hope you are both well. Hopefully next year we can meet. No trip to Bath this year with my sister sadly.

  2. It’s inevitable there are times when an e-book is available and print isn’t. I do still use my kindle if I feel I have to. But I found that during the pandemic I have tried harder to unamazon myself and to support smaller bookshops. They’re are always happy (ecstatic even) to post copies although with sometimes with delays.

  3. I used to read ebooks a lot, but have found myself veering back towards print as my first choice. I feel like I get a different reading experience with a physical book and the story sticks in my head better!

  4. I find my ereader invaluable, and often buy books I won’t keep for it. I do prefer real books by far though. The grisly murder puts me off a bit, I prefer my murders to be a bit more off camera so to speak. The bookshop element sounds good though.

    1. ‘Real books’ is a telling phrase! I have several friends who follow the same strategy you do. If you like the sound of this one, don’t let the grisly bit put you off. It’s just a few sentences.

  5. I turned to e-books in the spring when the library was closed but am not a convert. As you say, certain books are fine to be read on a device but others really need the tactical experience of paper!

  6. Who knew collecting books could be so dangerous? 😉

    I’m a print reader still. I’ve only read a book by screen once, and I didn’t really enjoy it. During the lockdown I was very grateful for my own library of books.

  7. I’ve got issues with my vision which restrict the amount of time I can spend with a screen, so although I did go through an epub phase several years ago (as a complementary measure, for reading when I couldn’t manage with the proper book, or could get a library epub long before a print copy, that kind of thing) I’ve become re-devoted to print. (Maybe eventually it’ll be all about audiobooks for me, and, if so, I’ll be grateful for the improvements in that industry over the past couple of decades! :)) This sounds quite entertaining. Anything in the bookworld does, of course!

    1. I’m sorry about your sight, Marcie. My partner’s father had the opposite experience. He was almost blind but the ability to adjust font size meant he could continue reading with an ereader.

      It was the book world aspect that attracted me to this one, and you’re right, it’s an enjoyable piece of entertainment

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