About The Master’s Book:
Sean moves to Brussels to a house that is a crime scene...
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 25. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.
The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
Inside, we could see neat stacks of framed pictures against both walls, their backs facing out. Starting with the left-hand stack, I pulled them forward one by one: an old-fashioned painting of some horses in a field, another of a mountain waterfall, one of a woman in a blue dress, and then a painting of a vase of flowers.
“I’ve no idea if these are valuable,” I said, “but they’re certainly old.”
I turned to the right-hand stack, all black-and-white stuff like sketches and architectural drawings.
“What’s in here?” Stephanie asked, turning the light on a steel cabinet with an airtight door that was set into the end wall. “Here, hold the torch.”
The big handle of the cabinet reminded me of one I’d seen on a walk-in meat store once. Stephanie had to use both hands to swing it open. Inside we could see two rows of folders hanging sideways like files from metal frames. She pulled on the lower frame, and it slid out. She lifted one of the folders out at random.
It contained several yellowing sheets of paper with old-fashioned writing, each one separated from the next by a piece of tissue paper. We tried another folder and found more of the same.
Stephanie fingered them gently. “What can these be, I wonder? I’m not sure if I can read them. Some of the words look like Flemish, and some like German.”
She put the folder back carefully and took out another. “I think these ones are in French, but I’m not sure. Some of the words are strange.”
“Well it doesn’t look like there’s anything here in English, anyway.” I looked into the gap where she’d taken out the folder.
That was when something else caught my eye.
“Wait a minute,” I whispered, the hair on the back of my neck standing up.
“What?” asked Stephanie, also dropping her voice to a whisper.
“There’s something else behind these folders. Here, help me get a few more out.”
She did as I asked, and we looked into the space again.
“What the—” I began, but Stephanie got there first.
“Why is there a safe hidden back here? It’s not as if this room is easy to find.”
“Or that the rest of the stuff here isn’t worth a lot,” I added.
“Exactly.” Stephanie exclaimed. “What on earth was this guy up to?”
The safe looked like the ones you see in hotel bedrooms, with buttons instead of a combination dial, only a bit bigger.
“Whatever’s in there must really be in a different league,” I went on, probing the buttons.
“I don’t suppose you can figure out the combination, can you, mister smart kid?”
“No,” I muttered. I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic when she called me “mister smart kid”.
“Pity. You’ve been doing so well up until now.”
I still didn’t know if she meant that as a compliment or not. Best not to take the credit if I didn’t know her intentions.
“Well, it was Maeve who first spotted that the basement was smaller than it should be,” I reminded her, trying to sound as if I didn’t care about her compliments.
“I forgot about that,” said Stephanie, laughing. “Maybe we should bring her in on the whole thing now.”
“No way.” The last thing I wanted was for Maeve to butt in on my time with Stephanie, not that I was going to admit why I didn’t want Maeve there. “If we do that, we might as well tell my folks, because I reckon that’s what she’d do.”
“Oh, well, we can’t have that. At least, not until we see if we can work out for ourselves what’s in there. It might be diamonds or something. Maybe the guy was a crook. We could get a reward.”
“Well, Dad said the neighbours didn’t like him, but that doesn’t mean he was a crook. Still, I suppose you never know. Anyway, we’re not going to find out one way or the other if we can’t work out the combination, are we?
“He’s probably written it down in code somewhere.”
“Yeah right. Now who’s been watching too much TV?”
“No, I think people actually do that. If this guy—what did you say his name was?”
“Jan. Jan de Meulenaer.” I’d heard Dad mention it often enough to remember.
“Well, maybe this Jan guy made some kind of a note of it somewhere to make sure he wouldn’t forget. But if the safe is this well-hidden, he won’t have just written it down somewhere obvious where everyone can find it. He’d leave himself a clue somewhere.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, reluctantly starting to put back the folders. “The house was completely empty when we moved in. They’d even redecorated it.”
“Let me think,” said Stephanie slowly, fingering her lower lip.
“Well, we can’t stay down here, anyway.” I glanced at my watch. “The folks might walk in anytime. And Maeve is always nosy.”
My Review / Thoughts:
I am sure I am going to sound like a broken record on my reviews. It's probably because I don't read things I don't like anymore. If it doesn't capture me in the first few chapters, it gets put down and never picked up again. Having said that, this book is AWESOME.
It is a middle grade book, but I think it appeals to a much larger audience. It could also be that I love reading middle grade books :). They are fun escapes from reality for me.
First off there are a few things in the book that are just fun because it takes place in Brussels, and some of the words they use for every day items are different. For example: They use torch for flashlight.....push chairs for strollers. It really puts you "IN" the book. Simple little things like that take me to a whole new world in my head while reading. The main character is from Dublin though, and I do have to say I found myself reading the book in an Irish accent (in my head). Yes, that is a little view into my inner nerd.
In the beginning I felt like the book moved a little fast, but as I went on it seemed to level out. Again, I love where this book took place in my head. The author does a great job of putting you "in" the book. That is truly my favorite thing about reading. The author gives just enough explanation of the surroundings and situations to make it interesting and not too much that it gets boring.
The MC's of this book are great detectives even though they are teenagers. They are both clever, and intelligent. They are fun to follow because you want to see what they find AND in the same light you want to say "you're only teenagers, stop making stupid choices"....Of course I think that is what makes the book so great. You cannot stop until the mystery reveals itself.
This book was action packed, clever, and fun. I really liked that I didn't realize who the "bad" guy was until the very end. I thought I had it figured out, and then 'bam" another twist, and I have to consider that there may be more than one "bad" guy or it could be a group of "bad" guys. It's great.
I was given this book by: Candace's Book Blog & CBB Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.
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