The Mysterious Press
c/o Grove Atlantic
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802123213, $24.00, Hardcover, 240 pp, www.amazon.com
From the publisher (a succinct plot summary without spoilers]:
The bibliophile community is stunned when a reclusive rare book collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and manuscripts that have been vandalized beyond repair. In the weeks following his death, Adam's sister, Meghan, and her lover a sometime literary forger who specializes in the handwriting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle struggle to come to terms with the murder. The police fail to identify a suspect, and the case quickly turns cold. Soon, Meghan's lover begins to receive threatening handwritten letters, ostensibly penned by long-dead authors but really from someone who seems to have disturbing insights into Adam's death. And he quickly realizes that this mystery letter writer will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
There are at least three forgers on the pages of this novel by Bradford Morrow, which provides a glimpse into the mind and the "art" of the forger's work, providing intriguing nuances of the trade. The lyrical prose and poetic writing distinguish this novel, and it is wonderfully entertaining, even as it exposes criminal behavior little suspected by lovers of antiquarian books.
The book opens with a murder, and there is a good deal of suspense leading to the stunning ending. But it is the world of rare books and original manuscripts, of which I knew almost nothing, which is so fascinating. There are insights provided throughout on a whole range of book-related things: "Bookshops were, are, and always shall be chancy, quixotic enterprises at best easier to raise snow leopards in one's living room than keep an independent bookstore afloat." An awareness difficult to avoid these days. And "Book collecting is an act of faith. It's all about the preservation of culture, custodianship." The act of forgery is described as producing feelings of nothing less than lightheartedness and rapture.
A definite change of pace from the usual fare, the novel is recommended.