Monday, December 5, 2011

The Club Dumas: Review

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a literary thriller with a bit of historical detection thrown in. Our hero is Lucas Corso, a book detective by trade, who operates in a world where the most diligent collectors would sell their own mother for that missing first edition which would "complete" their collection. "Complete" is in quotes, of course, because collectors are never satisfied and will always find one more item for their obsession. Corso does the dirty work. He tracks down books and brings them to his clients by hook or by crook. Most of his clients don't care what method brings the desired item into their hands....and will pay top dollar to make sure it winds up there.

Corso's mission is two-fold. He has been given access to two rare works--one, a hand-written chapter from Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers, and the other, a copy of a book purportedly designed by Lucifer himself called The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness,). He is supposed to prove the authenticity of both works...and in the case of the Nine Doors he must determine which of three copies extant (the one he has or one of two others) is the real McCoy. ("Would the real work of Satan please stand up?") It soon becomes apparent that there are others interested in the works as well and Corso finds himself involved in intrigue that seems to follow the adventures of the musketeers. There are three people dead and Corso survives several murderous attacks before the solution is revealed.

This is a very fast-paced novel. And one that should appeal to literary folk--it's been called a beach read for book lovers, and I'd say that's pretty accurate. A very interesting intellectual puzzle that will keep you turning the pages for more. My only quibble was that Corso, for all of being described as so clever and astute when it comes to books, was remarkably slow on the uptake. It took him what seemed like forever to realize that there was someone on his trail and then makes very stupid mistakes even after he knows. I expected him to be a little bit more savvy from the narrative. Over all, a fun and interesting read. Three and 3/4 stars--nearly four.


JLS Hall said...

I read this one a few years ago and really enjoyed it. But I agree about Corso's stupid mistakes.

Have to admit, I picked it up in the first place because I had just seen Polanski's film version, The Ninth Gate, which I also loved but which is very different from the book in many ways. This is one I could definitely re-read one of these days.

J F Norris said...

I only know th efilm with Johnny Depp and Lena Olin. I loved it as you might imagine - lurid storyline, Satanism, bibliophilia, and Depp in a quirky performance. Great pulpy fun. Reviewers unairly dumped on it. I've known for a while that that many people claim the book is far superior. This review may get me to finally crack open my treasured 1st edition. Found at a book sale, of course, for a pittance. :^)

Mel u said...

I read this in 2010-you are right it is a good "beach" type of read-to me it is a bookish boy's fantasy book-sort of silly but fun-I enjoyed your post a lot.

Bev Hankins said...

Of course you did, John. :-) You book hound,you.

Falaise said...

I love this book! But then again, Perez-Reverte is one of my favourite authors generally so I was bound to really.