ARTURO PEREZ-REVERTE is the author of many critically acclaimed novels, including The Club Dumas, The Flanders Panel, and the Captain Alatriste series. A retired war journalist, he lives in Madrid and is a member of the Royal Spanish Academy.
The hero of Spanish author Pérez-Reverte's freewheeling, ambitious literary mystery is Lucas Corso, an itinerant rare-book hunter who'd gladly sell his grandmother for a first edition. When a wealthy cookbook publisher and bibliophile is found hanged in his study, leaving behind an original handwritten chapter from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, antiquarian book dealer Flavio LaPorte asks his friend Corso to authenticate the manuscript. What begins as a straightforward assignment soon complicates into a bewildering tangle of literary gamesmanship as the book detective finds himself swept into a real-life adventure-serial and crime novel rolled into one. As the action shifts from Madrid to Portugal to Paris, the intrepid, bad-tempered, gin-swilling Corso encounters a host of intriguing characters, including devil worshippers, obsessed book collectors and a hypnotically appealing femme fatale. Suspense-filled and ingenious, Pérez-Reverte's latest (after The Flanders Panel) is also something of a primer on the rare-book business and a witty meditation on the relationship between book lovers and the texts they adore. Rights: Howard Morhaim. (Feb.)
Pérez-Reverte, who proved with The Flanders Panel (LJ 6/15/94) that art history and chess can mix to create suspense, is back with another literate mystery. Here the focus is on literature, particularly the world of antiquarian books, which proves much less stuffy than one might expect. Lucas Corso, a "mercenary of the book world [who hunted] down books for other people," gets more than he bargained for when he seeks to authenticate a manuscript of Chapter 42 of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers. The manuscript was purchased from Enrique Taillefer, a publisher subsequently found hanged, and it leads him on a search for the original of The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness, a work of the occult that was banned in the 17th century. So why is a man with a scar trying to kill Corso, and why is Taillefer's lubricious widow using her wiles to get back the Dumas chapter? This book takes a little longer to heat up than The Flanders Panel, possibly because the misansthropic Corso is not as as attractive a protagonist as Flanders's heroine, but soon the chase is on‘and it's as suspenseful as any mystery buff could want. The learned detail about early printing, the occult, and Dumas is just as stimulating. Highly recommended for readers who want their thrills a cut above the average.‘Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
PRAISE FOR THE CLUB DUMAS
An intelligent and delightful novel. -THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
A cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice . . . Think of The
Club Dumas as a beach read for intellectuals.-THE NEW YORK DAILY