Books like The Fortune Teller, by Gwendolyn Womack, makes me seriously wonder whether literary/historical thrillers have much of a future. There have been a lot of read-a-likes since The Da Vinci Code*, but none of the ones I’ve read have added anything new to the sub-genre. In The Fortune Teller, as in those other thrillers, an academic discovers a document full of secrets that could rewrite the history of something only to find themselves on the run from a lethal, shadowy organization. This thriller is enhanced with some family drama and precognition that I found mismanaged to the point that I wish I could go back and un-buy this book.
Our protagonist in The Fortune Teller is Semele Cavnow**, a rare book and manuscripts specialist working for a New York-based auction house. The Bossard collection is a magnificent library that Semele leaped at the chance to work with. While in Switzerland cataloging all of the books and documents, she comes across an ancient manuscript in Egyptian Greek that appears to be addressed…to her. From that point on, Semele’s story alternates with the story of a line of women who seem to have the power to accurately predict the future.
I was initially drawn to this book because the plot involves the Tarot, weird manuscripts, and mystery. Unfortunately, the plot is very slow until the last hundred or so pages of the book. When I got to the 70% mark (according to my kindle app), a twist happened that made me feel cheated even if it did kick things into high gear at last. I also had issues with the way that the historical elements of the book is handled. What kind of family history includes word-for-word dialogue, even if it’s written by a seer ancestress? I couldn’t help but think about how Agnes Nutter’s family history/predictions were handled in Good Omens. The Fortune Hunter is Womack’s second novel, which surprises me considering how poorly constructed I found it.
This book is entirely skippable.
* Which I only managed to read once. When I tried to re-read it, I found it so ludicrous I was little ashamed of myself for devouring it the first time around.
** I will give Womack points for interesting character names.