A Burnable Book

  • by Bruce Holsinger
  • Narrated by Tim Bruce
  • 14 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A stunning debut historical thriller set in the turbulent 14th century, for fans of C. J. Sansom, The Name of the Rose, and An Instance of the Fingerpost.
London, 1385: A city of shadows and fear, in a kingdom ruled by the headstrong young King Richard II, haunted by the spectre of revolt. A place of poetry and prophecy, where power is bought by blood. For John Gower, part-time poet and full-time trader in information, secrets are his currency. When close confidante and fellow poet Geoffrey Chaucer calls in an old debt, Gower cannot refuse.The request is simple: Track down a missing book.
It should be easy for a man of Gower's talents, who knows the back alleys of Southwark as intimately as the courts and palaces of Westminster. But what Gower does not know is that this book has already caused one murder, and that its contents could destroy his life. Because its words are behind the highest treason - a conspiracy to kill the king and reduce his reign to ashes....

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What the Critics Say

"A murder, a verse and a whore; the prologue of Bruce Holsinger`s A Burnable Book draws the reader in and does not let go. A deep understanding of the period combines with sophisticated writing to create a richly imagined world. Excellent historical fiction." (Harry Sidebottom, bestselling author of the Warrior of Rome series)
"... a fascinating overview of pre-Renaissance London at its best and worst. A highly literate thriller from medievalist Holsinger." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Medieval England never tasted so rich nor smelled so foul as in this descriptive and intricately layered mystery. Holsinger is at his best describing the everyday lives and privations of the lower classes. He succeeds in elevating the missing manuscript genre to new heights that will entertain readers of both fiction and nonfiction." (Library Journal)
"Holsinger is...a fantastic historical novelist....This book has everything - Chaucer, cryptography, murder, Katherine Swynford, the Southwark stews, English royalty, prophecy. It's that rare thing: a well-written, historically accurate thriller." (Historical Fiction Notebook)
"Everything you want in a work of historical fiction: fascinating, rich in period detail, and propelled by a compulsively engaging story. Even better, it's clever and witty... a superb entertainment." (David Liss, Edgar Award-winning author of A Conspiracy of Paper and The Twelfth Enchantment)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fabulous and well researched

What did you like most about A Burnable Book?

A rollicking good read about a man we can empathise with. Characters are believable and you grow to like them. It's also interesting to cloak Chaucer with contemporaries and background, and it focuses on a period I'm really interested in. Having lived in Kent in a village with it's church dedicated to St Dunstan...and had a daughter who went to uni at Goldsmiths College - deep in the Southwark stews.. it's the right book for me, well written and narrated - I highly recommend it.


Who was your favorite character and why?

You can't get passed John Gower- very much like Mantel's Cromwell, but without the same extent of royal patronage. You can never get passed his history, or how he deals with his issues with sight and investigation. I'm going to miss him in my life now I've finished this and the following book.


What does Tim Bruce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

This is a natural narrator. I like him telling me a story. -This is the right voice for the story - doesn't try too hard to put on different voices - in the same way your brain doesn't when you read a book yourself. The only reason I have returned books to Audible is that the narrator irritates me and this one really doesn't


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

it connected me to the history of places I know well. It didn't make me laugh or cry, but made me question what really is new, and haven't we carried our histories, assumptions, and behaviours down the centuries regardless of how the world has changed


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- Mrs Lois & Mr Don Lere

Not the best of its genre

There's a fair amount of fiction set in this period nowadays. And quite enough of it shares some of this ones themes. Sadly, I found this not the best written nor the most believable. A pleasant enough listen but nothing great...
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- tonywhipp

Book Details

  • Release Date: 30-01-2014
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited