The Book of the Most Precious Substance

Dreamland. Feb. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780578947099. pap. $18.95. THRILLER
Billed as an erotic thriller, Gran’s (“Claire DeWitt” series) much-anticipated return to the page is more of an adventure story with lots of sex—and black magic. Lily Albrecht was a successful novelist married to her soul mate, but that happy life changed when her husband, Abel, began a fade into near-catatonia. She set aside her writing and began a career as a rare-books dealer to pay for Abel’s fulltime care and medical needs. A fellow book dealer tells her to be on the lookout for a mysterious 17th-century occult manual; wealthy clients are willing to pay millions for The Book of the Most Precious Substance, which is said to give supernatural powers to those who complete five ritual acts involving bodily fluids and cosmic sex. When the bookseller is killed, Lily and wealthy, handsome librarian Lucas search for the book and encounter the people who desire it, sexing their way around the States and to France.
VERDICT Sumptuous descriptions of expensive meals, glamorous hotels, and luxurious homes become repetitive, but Lily’s acid narration and gradual reawakening and a “be careful what you wish for” finale enhance this quest novel.
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