I’m humming, like a tight-wire in a high wind. A few minutes ago I finished reading a book that tasted like honey and red wine, that punched me right in the mouth and dared me not to like it, that made such love to me I cried “I’m melting!” So somebody’s got to read this book and talk to me.
Arturo Perez-Reverte, a television journalist born in Cartagena, whom I had never read and didn’t know existed, has written three novels, and now I want to read the other two. This novel, The Club Dumas, is a bibliophile’s delight–a literary mystery set in the underworld of serious book collectors and the mercenaries who serve them, with a strong dose of the occult thrown in. The title alludes to the 19th-century French writer Alexandre Dumas, whose book The Three Musketeers plays an important role in the novel. The style reminds me of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and his labyrinths, cerebral, really smart writing, though this story is more accessible than some of Borges. And the characters are more human, more loveable than Borges’ tend to be.
I really like the main character, Lucas Corso, an imperfect, nearly dysfunctional, hero. Here is part of his introduction: “Corso was a mercenary of the book world, hunting down books for other people. . . . Jackals on the scent of the Gutenberg Bible, antique fair sharks, auction room leeches, they would sell their grandmothers for a first edition.”
I found the book at a book sale, decided to give it a shot, and bought it for fifty cents. Don’t you love it when that happens? Of course, I buy at least five book sale books for every one that turns to gold like this one did. But hey . . .
If you have read The Club Dumas, or if you are tempted to read it and give in to the temptation, let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’m going on-line to find the first two novels.