"Lt. Norman Blalock has accepted a hefty sum to steal a historic item from his place of employment, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The theft doesn't go as planned, resulting in an injured Norman stashing the artifact. Suspecting that his partner-in-crime, Kavitha Netram, attempted a double cross on their side deal, a bedridden Norman's distrustful, even as his cohort is caring for his Great Dane, Bruno. The two, meanwhile, are certain the Englishman behind the deal, Rupert Whyte, is out of the picture, especially because his powerful boss didn't get what he paid for. But when Whyte shows up in Washington, Kavitha makes a "peace offering": the Voynich Manuscript will be on loan to the Folger, a book that trillionaire collector Wolfgang Von Essen desperately wants. Norman enlists his private investigator pal, Luther Kane, to research enigmatic Von Essen while devising a caper to retrieve the manuscript as well as the original artifact. Unfortunately, an Iranian assassin, for a reason back in London, is gunning for Whyte and may target anyone he believes is working with the businessman. Peterson's story drops readers right into the plot, at the tail end of the botched heist. It's initially baffling though exhilarating (at least one person's dead before the night's over), but enlightening specifics on Norman, Kavitha, etc. do slowly emerge. Recurring scenes in the Folger are highly evocative; the author himself works there and hilariously appears as a character to give Norman sound advice. But there's plenty more to savor, from romance between Norman and Kavitha to the latter's possible deceit--and all before the manuscript heist is under way.
"A meticulously drawn-out caper that retains suspense even during the planning stage."
- Kirkus Reviews
"'The Voynich Gambit' starts with a bang. Literally. A shoot-out in the lobby of the Folger Shakespeare Library leaves two men dying, while Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock collapses with a heart attack on the floor of the reading room. Blalock is luckier than the two shooters. He pulls through--and that's when his real problems begin. In Quintin Peterson's new noir novel, a sequel to 'Guarding Shakespeare,' Blalock and his partner in crime, the luscious Kavitha Netram, are once again being coerced by unscrupulous 'antique dealer' Rupert Whyte to purloin treasures from the Folger collection. This time, Whyte is after the Voynich Manuscript, one of the rarest and most mysterious books in the world, slated to go on exhibit at the Folger. Double-crosses abound as the headsnapping action bounces from Capitol Hill to London to Nigeria--with a wink-worthy stop at the Trump International Hotel--before wrapping up with a bloody twist at Congressional Cemetery. Along the way, Peterson reveals his knowledge not only of all things Folger, but also of DC history, high technology and, especially, human nature in all its Shakespearean complexity."
- Karen Lyon, The Hill Rag
"Expect the unexpected and trust no-one," are words Lieutenant Norman Blalock seems to live by in The Voynich Gambit: A Norman Blalock Mystery by Quintin Peterson. Lt. Blalock, a guard at the Folger Shakespeare Library, has been forced by powerful entrepreneur Rupert Whyte to steal an ancient artifact with the help of beautiful Kavitha Netram, who works for Rupert. Events don't go as expected and Blalock finds himself seriously injured and in a dangerous ring of double crossing art collectors. When the mystifying Voynich Manuscript goes on display, Rupert plans another heist amidst increased security. Kavitha encourages Blalock to become her business partner, but he wonders if she's trustworthy. He secretly alters the heist plan after discovering the true motives of these treacherous players, but it can cost him his life.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players" - Shakespeare. Reading The Voynich Gambit: A Norman Blalock Mystery convinced me of that. Every character has an ulterior motive, playing a deadly cat and mouse game in trying to outsmart each other. The plot is suspenseful, fast paced and cleverly written by Quintin Peterson. It actually begins with action and has references to U2's song "With or Without You" and passages from well noted historical books. I like the author's writing tone that imparts his knowledge of history, which is a major part of the story. Norman Blalock is a strong character who isn't easy to push around. The Voynich Gambit is worth reading.
"Quintin Peterson's writing is one of those wonderful surprises: startlingly literary yet still gripping genre fiction."
- Austin S. Camacho, author of the bestsellingHannibal Jones Mystery Series