The Hidden Keys

The Hidden Keys

Book - 2016
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Giller Prize winner André Alexis's contemporary take on the quest narrative is an instant classic.

Parkdale's Green Dolphin is a bar of ill repute, and it is there that Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meetsWillow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle.

A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, a bottle of aquavit, a framed poem and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: Tancred islured in to this beguiling quest, and even though Willow dies before the puzzle is solved, he presses on.

As he tracks down the treasure, he must enlist the help of Alexander von Wurfel, conceptual artist and taxidermist to the wealthy, and fend off Willow's heroin dealers, a young albino named 'Nigger' Colby and his sidekick, Sigismund 'Freud' Luxemburg, a clubfooted psychopath, both of whom are eager to get their hands on this supposed pot of gold. And he must mislead Detective Daniel Mandelshtam, his most adored friend.

Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island , The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honorable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.

Publisher: Toronto : Coach House Books, ©2016.
ISBN: 9781552453254
Characteristics: 230 pages ;,21 cm


From the critics

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Jul 06, 2019

This story is great. It has mysteries, betrayals, heists, unlikely friendships, contested wills, and relatable sadness. It's a page-turner. (Inspired by Treasure Island and set in Toronto)

Jun 06, 2018

Loved the story and the author loaded it with interesting characters. Finished it in a day. Not meant to be a serious story, but sorta like Scaramouche. Fun. Now I've got to read his other book, Fifteen Dogs.

Mar 30, 2018

Really? I'm sorry I wasted my time with this book. Unbelievable characters, unbelievable plot, and by the time I got to the end, "who cares?"

Aug 08, 2017

Almost from the first page of the book I began to like it. One feels a love for Toronto, belonging to this city, regardless of in what part of it you live in.
One feels some sense of humor in describing even tragic situations. There is no usual for such moment’s descriptions of disrepair.
But that's exactly what I did not like about characters; they all seemed to me as lifeless, or something.
The author puts eternal questions, what is good and what is bad. The role of money in everyone's life, and the attitude towards them. What means happiness for every different person.
Some kind of a theme of a Robin Hood

Mar 08, 2017

Not as interesting as Fifteen Dogs

Jan 30, 2017

I expected more.

Nov 01, 2016

Alexis has said this is a retelling of Treasure Island. It reminded me of the Da Vinci Code, except with more elegant language, and the clues started with a Japanese screen instead of the Mona Lisa, and it was Toronto instead of Paris. Okay, so, not that similar. What I know for sure: it is great!

Oct 18, 2016

Spoiler alert: only one of the clues is really needed to solve the mystery (which was disappointing). The style of this book is like Alexander McCall Smith - moral dilemmas, character traits, and philosophy.


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Oct 18, 2016

Coarse Language: The nickname for an albino African character is "Nigger". Also, "f__k" is used several times.

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