David Koeppel
February 27, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

New York investment banker Edward Wozny is a bullying boss, bent on advancing his career. When wealthy clients mysteriously choose him to locate a medieval manuscript (”the codex”), he becomes embroiled in a gothic thriller. Often sophisticated, but occasionally deteriorating into the kind of ”cheap paperback mystery novel” Edward says his life has become, ”Codex” is rife with far-fetched coincidences and anticlimactic plot twists. Still, Grossman (a writer for EW’s sister magazine TIME) creates an alluring and meticulous fantasy world, replete with a sexy duchess, a jaded academic (”a cross between Stephen Hawking and Nancy Drew”), and a shadowy programmer whose virtual-reality game seems to parallel Edward’s own chaotic quest.

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