This is a tiresome catalogue of antiques masquerading as a novel. Tagged as a mystery, it’s only mildly absorbing in a handful of places. In Norman ruled Sicily of the 12th century, the royal geographer, Al-Idrisi has a collection of objects as varied as flutes and chess pieces stolen from a hidden trunk in his home. These objects become scattered across the world until the middle of the 20th century when a Soviet gulag commander sets off on a murderous treasure quest to collect them all. These are not even the main plots of The Geographer’s Library which is chiefly concerned with Paul Tomm a chronic underachiever who works for a teeny-weeny newspaper in a mofussil town in New England. Tomm is asked to write an obituary about a recently deceased resident, Jaan Paahapev, an Estonian immigrant and a lecturer on Baltic history at the local university. Obviously, the antiques, Mr. Gulag and the dead Estonian are related. There’s your mystery served with a dollop of history.