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The Tavernier Stones: A Novel Paperback – May 8, 2010

64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Parrish's debut, a Da Vinci Code satire, fails to make the most of its intriguing premise. When a bog man preserved in peat turns up near Hamburg, Germany, the police discover an enormous ruby clenched in his fist. Authorities identify him as Johannes Cellarius, a 17th-century cartographer, who was possibly done in with a pickaxe by a jealous husband. The really cold corpse inspires a global treasure hunt for the legendary Tavernier Stones, of which the ruby was part, lost by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605–1689) during his fabled seventh journey to the Orient. The last map Cellarius drew contains a clue composed of medieval runes. John Graf¸ an Amish cartographer, teams with David Freeman, a brilliant thief and gemologist, but more ruthless folks are also after the jewels. A gemologist and cartographer himself, Parrish slyly mixes fact and fancy as the progressively more silly action builds to an over-the-top climax. (May)
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"The author certainly knows his subject matter and relates it to historical fact. There should be something to appeal to readers of all persuasions."
--The Mystery Reader

"Parrish keeps the dialogue light, throws in more than a few witty scenes, and ties it all up in a neat and satisfying bundle at the end. What more could you want from a late summer read?"

"If his subsequent novels are researched to the same degree, he could claim a legitimate position among the notables of this genre."
-Library Journal --April 1, 2010

"The author clearly knows his subject--the details about map-making and gemology ring true--and even better, he knows how to tell a good story." --Booklist

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Midnight Ink; 1 edition (May 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738720569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738720562
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,279,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Parrish is the author of The Tavernier Stones, a #1 Amazon mystery, The Feasts of Lesser Men, and Anatomy of a Spy. In 2011 he was awarded an Independent Publisher (IPPY) gold medal. His short work has appeared in The Austin Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Good Men Project, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and elsewhere, and has been read in public by Liars' League, Lit Crawl, and other venues. He presently serves as editor of The Lascaux Review.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Hina on April 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Propelled by a spectacular opening, in which the corpse of seventeenth-century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius is discovered in a bog with a 57-carat ruby clutched in his fist, THE TAVERNIER STONES quickly unfolds into a treasure hunt adventure even more riveting than the real-life story of the jewels which spawned it. With its effortless weaving of memorable characters--each harboring his or her motive for coveting the stones--and intricate subplots, I found this novel to be an immensely satisfying and enjoyable read. While the ingenuous ending left me hungry for more from this gifted debut author whose writing is as accomplished as his storytelling.

Parrish incorporates an impressive depth of knowledge about cartography, cryptology, gemstones, and history, and his technical command of these details lends a precious believability to the hunt that is foundational to the book's success. While tension-filled and plenty thrilling, the action never veers off into the realm of the cartoonish, as Parrish grounds us so believably in his world of maps, codes, Amish culture, German lore, and, of course, precious jewels. I love a book where I learn as much as I'm entertained. Especially when the subject matter is as rich as this.

But none of that stuff would mean much without characters that live and breathe on the page. And live they do. Amish-born cartographer John Graf's struggle between the religious and familial roots he's severed and the worldly quest which becomes his obsession serves as the heart of this novel, and is deftly handled by the author. I was really invested in this character, and was pleasantly and poignantly surprised by where Parrish takes him.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Aerin Rose on May 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
FIRST LINE: "There's a dead guy out there."

When a very old body and an even older gem surface in a bog in northern Germany, persons worldwide realize they're the missing clues to the Tavernier stones, a lost cache of legendary jewels. Amish-born cartographer John Graf throws in his lot with scholar-turned-thief David Freeman in this modern-day treasure hunt. Together with David's gorgeous partner-in-crime Sarah, they race around the world. They don't know it, but they're up against a German Kommissar, a rival crook, and a penurious gentlewoman who bears a striking resemblance to the Wicked Witch of the West.

You know when you find the perfect pair of jeans? It's when you try them on in the fitting room, checking from all angles, and realize, "Wow, these make my butt look amazing." That's how you'll feel about Tavernier Stones (more or less). Reading this book makes you look - and feel - amazing.

Let's be honest. I wouldn't have picked up Tavernier Stones on my own. I'd read the first chapter at Book Roast (RIP), and I'd ordered a copy in support of Stephen, a friend in our 100+ person writing circle. Still, considering I'm named after a YA fantasy heroine, I didn't expect to adore this one quite so much as I did. I inhaled it - reading time: 2 hours, 47 minutes.

Stephen Parrish, much like a snake charmer, coaxed me out of literary complacency with a novel of intelligence and wit (o, the wit; the startling humor!) As a lover of YA, I'm suspect of harsh, bitter writing. Parrish's writing can be mellifluous, almost poetic.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Holly Elaine Crisler on April 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Now THAT was fun! A historic treasure hunt that reads like a roller coaster ride with characters you love and love to hate. Parrish gives the reader a good, hearty introduction to the art of maps and the beauty of precious gems with the charmingly naive hero, John Graf, and the clever and thieving David Freeman. The pace is quick and little bombs of humor keep it moving. Heads up, Hollywood, this would make a great movie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jon VanZile on February 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Tavernier Stones is one of the more unconventional thrillers I've read in recent years--after all, it features an Amish lead character and deals with both cartography and gemstones in a credible, expert way. I typically read books for a window into a world different than my own--otherwise, why bother? And Parrish did a great job of creating a world that was completely new, but totally relatable to me. I loved the stuff about gems and the adventure, but the part that really resonated strongly with me was the character of John Graf. Here in the midst of a thriller complete with bad guys, riddles, adventures and cross-continental intrigue you have this Amish man who's struggling with his passion for cartography and his roots in his community. It's just really powerful and it shows an ambition in storytelling that I wish every thriller strived for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on May 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author of this book in the end delivers a pretty decent thriller with a nice climax -- and does so despite some glaring flaws.

Stephen Parish, we're told is a gemologist and cartographer who lives in Germany. He combines deep knowledge of these three subject and of medieval cryptography to concoct a plot about some mysterious gems lost to history in several hundred years ago. The sudden discovery of the murdered corpse of a famous 17th century map maker in a bog outside Hamburg sets off a race to find these long lost jewels.

The race involves several shady characters and one worthy protagonist. This is John Graf, a lapsed member of the Amish turned cartographer. Others involved in the chase include a light-fingered jewel thief and his sexy girlfriend, a German policeman and a comically evil elderly German woman and her thuggish sidekick.

Deep knowledge is an excellent thing in academia but it can be a two-edged sword in fiction if the author gives into the temptation to tell the reader everything he (or she) knows about the given subject. Parish does fall prey to this temptation and I had to plow through many more pages than I would have liked explaining every facet of gemology and analysing the mechanics of obscure medieval codes and how they might be broken.

Another problem with knowing a lot about some things is that it draws attention to other subjects that the author clearly knows nothing at all about. In this case, his attempt to portray an editor of the Chicago Tribune chasing a "hot story" was comically inept.

I also have to say that the writing in this book was often deliriously clunky. Some examples: "Blumenthal's living room was a microcosm of her paradigm." Say what?
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