September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

by Allen Kurzweil

For lovers of books, language and all things arcane, the New York Public Library is as magical a place as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School. Its dusty rolling stacks and whizzing pneumatic tubes are the ideal habitat for Alexander Short, a young reference-desk assistant and devoted word nerd. When an eccentric collector asks for some after-hours research, Short is caught up in the hunt for the missing object: a coveted pocket watch purportedly created for Marie Antoinette. As the amiable Short combines scholarly delving with shoe-leather sleuthing, he ill-advisedly neglects his wife, Nicole, a pop-up book artist who is trying to jump-start their love life. Kurzweil—author of the similarly quirky A Case of Curiosities—spins a funny, entertaining mystery whose witty wordplay and fascinating detail will tickle any reader’s brain. (Theia, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Bliss for bibliophiles

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