Biblionovels: A Selected Reading List
The following is a selected reading list of Biblionovels of note.
Biblionovels are novels which have a bibliophilic theme or main character. Many of these books are available from Old Saratoga Books (search our website catalog "Biblionovels") and other used and rare booksellers or can be borrowed from your local library.
Adamson, Lydia, Beware the Laughing Gull, (NY: Signet, 1998). Retired librarian and full-time birdwatcher Lucy Wayles solves the murder of a bride on her wedding day.
Allen, Garrison, Cat series. Mystery bookstore owner Phuntenelope Warren and her cat, Mycroft, solve murder mysteries in and around their eccentrically-populated Arizona town.
Andahazi, Federico, The Merciful Women, translated from the Spanish by Alberto Manguel, (London: Doubleday, 2000). A novel featuring Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and other hangers-on during an 1816 Swiss vacation. On the same night that Mary Shelley is to read aloud her Frankenstein tale, another literary dare had been extended to Byron's physician, Doctor Polidori, to offer a vampire tale. Great jacket art featuring Michelangelo's David with vampire bat codpiece.
Arnold, Ralph, "Spring List", (NY: Macmillan, 1957). A light and humorous novel about the competition for the rights to publish a potential best-seller. Our farcical hero is Arthur Lynsted, the director of Southease & Piddinghoe, a London publisher.
Atlas, James, "The Great Pretender", (NY: Atheneum, 1986). The author's first novel about bookish Ben Janis who haunts used bookshops and writes inscrutable French poetry while other teens are out necking. Jacket very lightly wrinkled at edges.
Barnard, Robert, "The Case of the Missing Bronte", (NY: Dell, 1986) - Scotland Yard Inspector Perry Trethowan is on vacation in Yorkshire, but is reluctantly involved in detective work when a spinster contacts him about a potential Bronte manuscript. Also be sure to check out Barnard's "Death of a Mystery Writer" and "At Death's Door", for other literary plots.
Barnes, Julian, "Arthur & George", (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005) - A novel based on the lives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes' inventor and passionate spiritualist, and George Edalji, a British solicitor falsely imprisoned for a string of animal mutilations, and whose cause was championed by Doyle.Barr, Joel, "Chapters and Verse", (Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1990) - Bookstore owner E. Baker retires and sells her shop to a young man, but can't seem to get the bookstore passion out of her blood, so she writes him comic letters of advice.
Barron, Stephanie, the Jane Austen series. The literary conceit here is that a cache of Jane Austen's letters have been discovered at the bottom of an American relative's coal chute and they reveal that Jane had been working to solve murders, fall in love and spy for her country behind the mask of a proper English lady. The style and vocabulary fit Austen perfectly and there is plenty of dashing adventure to spice up the actual biographical events of her life.
Barron, Stephanie, "The White Garden", (NY: Bantam, 2009). Fans of Virginia Woolf and the other members of the Bloomsbury group will relish this literary detective story in which a modern day relative of a Sissinghurst gardener, and some Sotheby's and Oxford College rare book experts, track down what happened to Ms. Woolf in the days between when she went missing and her drowned body was found in the River Ouse.
Bartram, George, "Fair Game", (NY: Macmillan Publishing, 1973). Meek John Grueby is the corporate librarian for Worldwide Redwood Products until one day when a sinister anonymous cabal kidnaps him and makes him travel around the world doing their bidding.
Beaton, M.C., "Death of a Bore", (NY: Mysterious Press, 2005). Gangly, flaming-locked Hamish Macbeth is the constable of a small Highland Scottish village and resists promotion to big city detective work. In this novel he solves the murder of the narcissistic, boring writer who alleges to teach the village residents how to write, but prefers to just talk about himself. Other novels in this witty, long-running series involve scriptwriters and other authors.
Beresford-Howe, Constance, A Population of One, (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1977). Our heroine is a professor of English at a university and struggles to juggle revolting students, boring departmental assignments and a serious of romances.
Bernardo, Jose Raul, "Silent Wing", (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1998). A passionate novel about the life of poet and activist Jose Marti, set in turn-of-the-century Cuba.
Betts, Doris, "Heading West", (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981). Staid librarian Nancy Fish has a boring life between work and church and not much action other than the prospects of stultifying vacations with her dumb sister and awful brother-in-law. While on one of these mind-numbing jaunts she is abducted by a mysterious stranger and taken on a cross-country ride.
Blackstock, Charity, Dewey Death, (NY: Ballantine, 1985). Intrigue, eccentric librarians and murder stalks the Inter-Libraries Despatch Association in London, a librarian's library.
Block, Lawrence, The Burglar Who series. Burglar-turned-used-bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr is the hero of this comic mystery caper series set in Manhattan. Bernie just wants to focus on selling his beloved books, but he hasn't given up his lock picks yet. Bond, Michael, "Monsieur Pamplemousse Rests His Case", (NY: Fawcett-Columbine, 1991). Restaurant reviewer M. Pamplemousse, ably assisted by his bloodhound, Pommes Frites, attends a recreation of a Victorian feast written about by gourmand author Alexandre Dumas and organized by a crew of mystery writers. Murder is the aperitif.
Bowen, Michael, "Corruptly Procured", (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1994). Retired diplomat Richard Michaelson is at a reception at the Library of Congress when a bomb goes off, sending him to the hospital and providing cover for the heist of a rare Gutenberg Bible.
Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451 (pick your edition from any number of editions and printings) is probably the one that springs to most peoples' minds, a futuristic fantasy-noir in which books are officially verboten, but so beloved that people memorize their favorites and recite them underground.
Brooks, Geraldine, "The People of the Book", (NY: Viking, 2008). A wonderful biblionovel and traipse through European, African and Middle Eastern history as one follows the detective work of a book conservator and her research on the illuminated Sarajevo Haggadah.
Bunn, Curtis, "Book Club: Books are Their Life and Their Life is a Book" (Upstream Publication, 2003) - A collection of tales about book club members in Houston, Oakland, New York City, Washington D.C. and Atlanta.
Burley, W.J., "Death in Willow Pattern", (NY: Walker and Company, 1983). Dr. Henry Pym and his secretary are called to a British country manor to catalog the books and manuscripts in the library, when someone starts recreating murderous events outlined in the diary of one of the aristocratic ancestors.
Byatt, A.S., Possession, (NY: Random House, 1990). A great literary puzzle wrapped inside a passionate romance between bibliophiles that shifts between present day and Victorian London.
Caldwell, Ian and Dustin Thomason, The Rule of Four, (NY: The Dial Press, 2004). Murder breaks out when two Princeton students solve a ciphered message encoded in the 15th century manuscript of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.
Campbell, Ramsey, "The Overnight", (NY: Tor, 1995). Woody transfers from America to England to manage a chain bookstore, but every night strange and terrible things happen to the books, the employees and even the customers. Woody spends an overnight behind locked doors finally to set things right, but instead finds that "this bookstore is no haven. It is the doorway to a hell unlike any other"
Candy, Edward, "Words for Murder Perhaps", (NY: Ballantine, 1985). Mild-mannered English literature professor Gregory Roberts enjoys his quiet life and teaching his course on Crime Fiction until a series of real murders breaks out at the university. A trail of literary clues points to a bookish murderer.
Carlisle, Kate, "Homicide in Hardcover", (NY: Obsidian, 2009). A light bibliomystery set in San Francisco featuring bookbinder and conservator Brooklyn Wainwright as she seeks the murderer of her teacher among likely suspects among book collectors, museum curators and hippie commune members.
Clarke, Brock, "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England" (NY: Algonquin Books, 2007). The hapless hero of this satire on the
literary novel is Sam Pulsifer. He is a full-time bumbler, accidental
arsonist, partially "grown-ass man", and packaging scientist who ends up
solving the mystery of who is intentionally going around trying to set
fire to various esteemed author's homes around New England.
Cohen, Esther, "Book Doctor", (NY: Counterpoint, 2005). Arlette Rosen is a dispenser of book wisdom and one cool cucumber, until she meets up with tax attorney Harbinger Singh, who rocks her world. A cleverly sardonic novel set in Manhattan.
Colapinto, John, About the Author, (NY: HarperCollins, 2001). Stockboy Cal Cunningham toils away in a Manhattan bookstore and dreams of writing the Great American Novel in this darkly humorous autobiographical novel. His killer shark literary agent is wonderfully over-the-top.
Collins, Michael, "Death of a Writer", (NY: Bloomsbury, 2006). A former literary prodigy turned stodgy and depressed English professor, E. Robert Pendleton, attempts suicide when a rival author arrives at his midwestern college. He ends up wheelchair bound, and an unpublished novel of his about a gruesome child murder surfaces at the same time. The novel is published and Pendleton gets the success he always craved, but also becomes a suspect in a local unsolved murder case. Crider, Bill, "Booked for a Hanging", (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1992). In this sixth installment in the author's mystery series featuring Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes, he investigates the murder of a rare book dealer found hung in the rundown building he was renovating for his bookshop.
Cross, Amanda - Kate Fansler series - The late Amanda Cross (pseudonym for Carolyn Heilbrun) wrote a great series of bibliomysteries featuring English Professor Kate Fansler.
Cunningham, Michael, "The Hours"
- (NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1998) - A Pulitzer Prize winning novel later made into a film starring Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. Woolf's life in the 1920s is intertwined with the stories of two other women from different eras.Curran, Terrie, All Booked Up
, (NY: Worldwide, 1989). A rare incunabula turns up missing at the academic Smedley Library, followed up by the corpse of one of its patrons.Daly, Elizabeth, Henry Gamage series
- Gamage is a genteel rare books consultant, although bothersome corpses always seem to turn up when he's out consulting.
Davis, Harriet Eager, "Elmira", (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966). A mingling of fact and fiction in this biographical novel centered around Edgar Allan Poe and his first love (and secret fiancee), Elmira Royster.
Davis, Kenn, "Words Can Kill", (NY: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1984). California private eye Carver Bascome looks into the murder of a writer. Was it a fellow author: thriller author Doyle O'Neill, romance novelist Arlene Manley, mystery author Charlotte Atkinson or "serious" novelist Felix Kuttner. Lots of great bookstore scene.
Dereske, Jo, Miss Zukas series. The regimented spinster librarian of Bellehaven, Washington, Helma Zukas, and her 6-foot tall bohemian artist gal pal methodically solve murders in this bibliophilic series. Dobson, Joanne, Karen Pelletier series
. Fordham University English Professor Joanne Dobson has turned out several elegant, quasi-autobiographical bibliomysteries featuring an English professor who solves literary puzzles involving nineteenth century American writers with the help of a hunky detective of Polish extraction.Dobyns, Stephen, "Saratoga Hexameter"
, (NY: Viking, 1990). The sixth novel in Dobyns' series featuring rumpled Saratoga Springs, New York detective Charlie Bradshaw as he investigates three crimes in which poetry plays a part: a murderer who leaves behind a clue in iambic hexameter, harassment of a poetry critic at a nearby artist colony and a string of hotel robberies with villainous poetry left behind.
Dunning, John, the Cliff Janeway series. Dunning just doesn't write these fast enough. His first book is the most satisfying, as his Denver police detective turned book scout seems to find an underpriced literary treasure at every single thrift shop and garage sale. The later books in the series focus less on his book finds and more on shoot 'em up chase scenes with villains. But do seek out Dunning's first bibliomystery, "Booked to Die", if you haven't read it.
Eco, Umberto, Foucault's Pendulum, (San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1989). Forget "The Da Vinci Code", this literate thriller about books, Knights Templar, Gnosticism, Stonehenge and international cabals is the one to read. Eco's other great biblio-roman is "The Name of the Rose"(San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1994), a murder mystery set in a 14th century Italian abbey. Lots of symbols and secrets hidden in illuminated manuscripts with a superb ending. Engel, Howard, Murder in Montparnasse
, (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1999). A thriller set in 1920s Paris, in which our detective, journalist Michael Ward attempts to solve the Jack-the-Ripper-style serial murders of young women, aided by his cafe-loving writer and artist pals, including Gertrude Stein, Jules Pascin, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, etc.
Estrin, Marc, "Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa"
(NY: Bluehen Books, 2002). Continues the tale of Kafka's character who morphed into a giant cockroach and imagines that he was spirited out of his rooms to a Viennese sideshow.
Fforde, Jasper, The Thursday Next series. Several recent novels to date which are sort of a mix of mystery and fantasy, featuring literary detective Thursday Next, who investigates the kidnapping of Jane Eyre in one novel, hangs out with Shakespeare in the next.
Fiske, Dorsey, "Bound to Murder", (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1987). Cambridge University medieval scholar (and closet mystery writer) Fenchurch teams up with Inspect Bunce to find out who has been desecrating library volumes and then to solve the murder of this bibliopath.
Fitzgerald, Penelope, "The Bookshop", (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997). A short and elegant novel about Florence Green, a middle-aged lady who opens The Old House Bookshop in her seaside Sussex town, and is undeterred by dampness, scheming neighbors and poltergeits in living out her dream.Gill, Bartholomew, "The Death of an Ardent Bibliophile"
, (NY: William Morrow and Company, 1995). Irish police detective investigates the grotesque murder of the Jonathan Swift-obsessed director of Marsh's Library in Dublin. Another title in the McGarr series is "The Death of a Joyce Scholar".
Glendinning, Victoria, "The Grown-Ups", (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990). A selfish, brilliant writer dies at a Buckingham Palace garden party, leaving many story lines behind among his relatives, friends and colleagues.
Goodrum, Charles A., Dewey Decimated, (NY: Crown Publishers, 1977). A classic bibliomystery involving death in the stacks of a rare book library. Author photo on rear jacket flap seated at his Library of Congress desk.
Gottlieb, Samuel Hirsh, Overbooked in Arizona, (Scottsdale, AZ: Camelback Gallery, 1994). An apocalyptic tale of bibliomania gone terribly wrong. The narrator begins his tale from a Death Row jail cell in Arizona and relates his book obsession through the Southwestern and Western United States. Lots of real-life used and rare bookstores and books discussed.
Grimes, Martha, Foul Matter (NY: Viking, 2003). Intrigue set in the cutthroat world of New York City book publishing.
Grossman, Lev, "Codex" (Orlando: Harcourt, 2004). A young investment banker gets swept up in the rarified world of antiquarian books when he is employed by an eccentric supermillionairess to find a missing medieval manuscript.
Gruber, Michael, "The Book of Air and Shadows" (NY: Harper, 2007). An antiquarian bookstore in New York City burns to the ground, but an ex-employee finds enough evidence to search for a missing Shakespearean manuscript.
Grudin, Robert, Book, (NY: Random House, 1992). In jacket protector. An academic caper in which University of Washington English professor has disappeared along with all known copies of his obscure but brilliant novel.
Hamilton, Masha, "The Camel Bookmobile", (NY: Harper Perennial, 2007). A novel based on a real-life, camel-driven bookmobile that delivers books to remote areas of northern Kenya.
Hart, Carolyn, Death on Demand series. Annie and Max Darling run a mystery bookshop on a South Carolina resort island and solve murders on the side. This is a great series for anyone who loves classic mysteries, because Hart peppers the books with references to various authors and novels and always has a puzzle involving paintings of scenes from famous murder mysteries that is solved at the end of the book. Her two black cats, Agatha and Dorothy (after Christie and Sayers) and the coffee mugs with famous mystery book titles displayed in the store add to this literary homage.
Hawkes, Ellen and Peter Manso, The Shadow of the Moth. (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1983). A romp through pre-World War I London with Virginia Woolf playing detective with a young American reporter to solve an official suicide that Woolf is convinced is truly murder.
Hay, Sheridan, The Secret of Lost Things. (NY: Doubleday, 2006). New Zealand orphan Rosemary Savage comes of age in an eccentric Manhattan used bookstore, peppered with extremely eccentric employees. A missing Melville novel also spices up the mix.
Hess, Joan, the Claire Molloy series. Claire Molloy owns a new bookstore in a college town but always manages to be able to lock up and sneak off to solve murders. A light, humorous series.
Howe, Katherine, "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane", (NY: Hyperion, 2009). A Harvard grad student needs a dissertation topic for her doctorate in colonial history and finds one in the search for a physick book or grimoire left by a woman executed during the Salem Witch Trials.
Hunt, Barbara, A Little Night Music, (NY: Rinehart and Company, 1947). A Scots second-hand bookseller assembles a collection of rare books as a legacy for his daughter, but his plans are complicated by the arrival of a mysterious stranger.
Innes, Michael, "Hamlet, Revenge!" (NY: Collier Books, 1962).
Innes was a pseudonym for Oxford English Professor J.I.M. Stewart, who wrote many erudite and literary mysteries, including "Hamlet, Revenge!" in which the Lord Chancellor is murdered during a country house amateur production of Shakespeare's opus.
James, Dean, "Closer Than the Bones", (Johnson City, TN: Silver Dagger Mysteries, 2001). Retired high school English teacher Ernestine Carpenter looks into the suicide (or was it murder?) of a writer at a literary Christmas party. Was the killer a jealous colleague among the Yuletide guests? And what happened to the writer's missing manuscript?
Jeffers, H. Paul, "Reader's Guide to Murder", (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1996). In order to solve a murder at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC Detectives Goldstein and Bogdanovic must decipher clues about classic mystery novels from the killer.
Johnson, Pamela Hansford, Cork Street, Next to the Hatter's, (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965). London bookshop owner Cosmo Hines and his poet wife Dorothy Merlin preside over a raft of eccentric customers, including a literature professor who sets out to write a play, The Potted Shrimp, "so overpoweringly loathsome that nobody could put it on".
Jones, D.J.H. Murder at the MLA by D.J.H. Jones (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993). Chicago homicide detective Boaz Dixon must enlist the assistance of Yale professor Nancy Cook to solve the pile-up of bodies at the Modern Language Association annual meeting.
Kaewert, Julie, the Alex Plumtree series. Plumtree owns a small publishing house in London and must investigate murders on the side. All the titles start with Un- (Unbound, Untitled, etc.)
Kelly, Susan, Out of the Darkness, (NY: Villard, 1992). Free-lance journalist used to write about true crime for magazines, but then recessionary cutbacks squeezes her markets. She hooks up with creepy true crime bestselling writer to investigate the serial murders of young New England women.
Killian, Diana, "High Rhymes and Misdemeanors", (NY: Pocket Books, 2003). American literary scholar Grace Hollister stumbles upon the body of a dead antiques dealer as she tours England's Lake District and its literary landmarks. King, Peter, Jack London mystery series-
Writer Jack London is the protagonist sleuth in this historical mystery series based on his early years as a journalist in raucous, turn-of-the-century San Francisco.King, Ross, "Ex-Libris"
, (NY: Penguin, 2002) - 1600s London is the setting for this highly literate thriller featuring the unlikely hero, Isaac Inchbold, a club-footed, myopic bookseller, who unravels the mysteries of an ancient manuscript, alchemical recipes, and the transfer of the riches of the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War.Klaich, Dolores, "Heavy Gilt"
, (Naiad Press, 1988) - A comic murder mystery in which a homophobic dinner guest is murdered at a party populated by bookstore owners, novelists, mystery writers and other literary types.
Kurzweil, Allen, A Case of Curiosities, (NY: Ballantine Books, 1993). Young inventor Claude Page "learns the arts of enameling and watchmaking from an irascible defrocked Abbe, apprentices himself to a pornographic bookseller, and applies his erotic erudition to the seduction of the wife of an impotent wig maker in this witty novel set in late 18th century France.
Kurzweil, Allen, The Grand Complication, (NY: Hyperion, 2001) A stylish novel about reference librarian Alexander Short, who is hired for some after-hours cataloguing by an eccentric bibliophile looking for information about an 18th century French inventor.
Leon, Donna, "By Its Cover", (NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014). The twenty-third novel in the author's bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian detective Guido Brunetti as he tracks down murderers and book thieves at the Biblioteca Merula.
Leslie, John, "Night and Day", (NY: Pocket Books, 1995). A bibliomystery about the annual Ernest Hemingway literary festival in Key West, Florida, which normally drives the locals, including private investigator-piano player Gideon Lowry, into hiding.
Lewis, Roy Harley, Matthew Coll series - Lewis wrote an elegant series of five bibliomysteries featuring British antiquarian bookseller Matthew Coll. Lots of Shakespeareana and tidbits about rare books sprinkled throughout.
Lovett, Charlie, "The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession" (NY: Viking, 2013). An antiquarian bookseller solves the mystery of a watercolor portrait that resembles his late wife found in a book, as well as unmasking a forged Shakespearean volume. Lots of great travel between the 16th-20th centuries with many references to great literary figures, book collectors, book sellers and book scoundrels.
MacDonald, Marianne, "Blood Lies" ,, (NY: St. Martin's, 2002). This novel and others in the Didi Hoare series featuring an antiquarian bookseller heroine solving murder mysteries in England in between book buying opportunities.
Maguire Gregory, "The Daughter of the Moon", (NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1980). A young adult novel by the author of "Wicked", in which our 12-year-old heroine, Erikka, helps an elderly Russian rare bookstore owner save his business.
Marlowe, Stephen, The House at the End of the World, (NY: E.P. Dutton, 1995). A novel featuring Edgar Allan Poe which offers a fictional explanation for the missing week in the author's life in 1849 when he vanished and then reappeared mortally ill at a Baltimore hospital.
Marshall, Evan, "Crushing Crystal", (NY: Kensington, 2004). The sixth installment in this cozy mystery series starring literary agent Jane Stuart and her cat Winky, in which she investigates the murder of a gossipy assistant librarian, killed by tons of falling books and shelves during a book group meeting.
McAleer, John, Coign of Vantage, or the Boston Athenaeum Murders, (Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 1988). An erudite mystery involving multiple murders at a Boston Brahmin gentleman's club neatly solved by Ralph Waldo Emerson biographer Austin Layman.
McIver, N.J., "Come Back, Alice Smythereene!" (Toronto: Paper Jacks, 1986). Literary critic and poet Arnold Simon leads a secret life as a steamy romance novelist, but finds he must play detective when the woman who poses as his writing alter ego, Alice Smythereene, vanishes.
Meredith, D.R., Murder in Volume, (NY: Berkley, 2000). A light, fun read about a motley cast of characters in a murder mystery book group at the local bookshop. Of course, they have a real-life murder to solve.
Michaels, Barbara, Houses of Stone, (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1993). "When young professor of English Karen Holloway happens on a privately printed volume of verse dating from the early nineteenth century, it's all in a day's work. But when a battered manuscript bearing the same mysterious attribution, "Ismene," turns up, Karen realizes that it is an important discovery that could be the making of her academic career". Barbara Michaels (real name Barbara Metzger) also writes those great Egyptological Amelia Peabody mysteries under the name Elizabeth Peters.
Monfredo, Miriam Grace, the Glynis Tryon series. This is a great historical series set in Seneca Falls, New York in the mid-1800's. Not only are Civil War events swirling around, but the women's rights movement was born in this little Finger Lakes village. Enter librarian Glynis Tryon, who helps the local sheriff solve the inevitable murder.
Morley, Christopher, "Parnassus on Wheels" and "The Haunted Bookshop". Our heroes Helen McGill and Roger Mifflin find love and contentment in their traveling bookmobile in the first book and then settle down to run "The Haunted (and smoke-wreathed) Bookshop" in a Brooklyn brownstone. Originally published in 1919, I recommend the 1940s reprint editions illustrated by Douglas Gorsline.
Palmer, William J., "The Detective and Mr. Palmer", (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1990). Alleged to be the secret journal of Wilkie Collins, Dickens' protege and the author of "The Moonstone". Collins and Dickens help London police investigate a murder at a Covent Garden production of Macbeth.
Pearl, Matthew, "The Dante Club", (NY: Random House, 2003). A wonderfully atmospheric literary mystery in which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, publisher James T. Fields and others hunt a serial killer in 19th century Boston who is using their translations of Dante as blueprints for murder.Perez-Reverte, Arturo, "The Club Dumas
", (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1993). A literary thriller about Lucas Corso, a book detective hired to track down rare books by any means necessary for unscrupulous, rich collectors. Corso ends up tracking down the killer of a bibliophile client, found hanged with a scrap of Dumas' original manuscript of "The Three Musketeers".
Pesetsky, Bette, "Author From a Savage People", (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1986). The nameless heroine is a ghostwriter for several clients, one of whom goes to on snag a Nobel Prize for Literature. Peterson, Bernard, "The Caravaggio Books
", (NY: Worldwide Library, 1977).
An academic mystery in which first an art professor studying Caravaggio and then a retired English professor are found murdered in locked library study carrels.Poe, Robert, The Black Cat
, (NY: TOR, 1997). The author, a distant relation to Edgar Allan Poe, relates the story of a journalist, also a distant relation to Poe, who investigates the arrival of a witch woman and an outbreak of evil doings in his small town. Based on the original Poe's short story "The Black Cat".Porter, Anna, "The Bookfair Murders"
, (Toronto: McArthur & Company, 1997). Editor Marsha Hillier is trying to chat up a taciturn literary agent at the Frankfurt International Bookfair, when she finally notices that he isn't breathing.
Richardson, Bill, Bachelor Brothers Bed and Breakfast, (NY: St. Martins Press, 1996) and its sequel Bachelor Brothers Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book are wonderful, cozy reads about two gentle eccentric twin brothers, Virgil and Hector who run a bed and breakfast for bibliophiles. A great mix of humor and erudition.
Riley, Judith Merkle, A Vision of Light(NY: Delacorte, 1989). Wealthy young Margaret of Ashbury has the audacity to wish to write a book about her remarkable experiences, but this just isn't done in 14th century England, so she must hire a renegade monk to chronicle her life.
Sarton, May, "The Education of Harriet Hatfield" (NY: W.W. Norton, 1989). At age sixty, Harriet receives an inheritance that fulfills her lifelong dream: opening a women's bookstore. Unfortunately, the welcoming committee in her homophobic Boston neighborhood is not enthused.
Savage, Sam, Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2006). Firmin the Vermin (hes a rat) comes of age in the basement of a used bookstore and then ends up hanging out with a fantasy writer in 1960s Boston. He develops an appreciation for literature after consuming various books.
Setterfield, Diane, "The Thirteenth Tale" (NY: Atria Books, 2006). At the end of her long life, reclusive, best-selling English author Vida Winter relates her autobiography to a young antiquarian bookshop assistant. A fascinating, Gothic-tinged story with snippets of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" woven throughout.
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" (NY: Dial Press, 2009). An epistolary novel about the power of books, loyalty and friendship during the German occupation of this Channel Island during World War II.
Sijie, Dai, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" (NY: Anchor Books, 2002). The transformative power of reading is the center of this semi-autobiographical novel of two young Chinese men sent for "re-education" in a remote Chinese mountain village in the late 1960s.
Simonson, Sheila, "Malarkey" (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1997). This novel is the fifth bibliomystery featuring San Francisco bookseller Lark Dodge, as she flees from her personal problems to Ireland to help take care of her ailing father. Naturally, she finds a murder victim in a backyard shed and must get sleuthing.
Sloan, Robin, "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" (NY: Picador, 2013). A fable that blends e-book readers, antiquarian books, cryptography, typography, Google and dragoncentric fantasy fiction into one glorious amalgam.
Treuer, David, "The Translation of Dr. Apelles (St. Paul, MN: Gray Wolf Press, 2006). A librarian and translator of Native American manuscripts stumbles across a fascinating literary discovery.
Truman, Margaret, Murder at the Library of Congress, (NY: Random House, 1999). While researching Christopher Columbus and his travels at the Library Congress, writer Annabel Reed-Smith helps solve a murder and searches for a legendary diary by one of Columbus' shipmates.Van Gieson, Judith, "The Stolen Blue
", (NY: Signet, 2000). Lots of great information about Southwestern authors and rare books pepper this novel in which our heroine, Claire Reynier, a Collections Development Specialist with the University of New Mexico Library (aka rare book scout), must act as executor of her former teacher's will.Van Gulik, Robert, "Poets and Murder"
, (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1968). One of Van Gulik's meticulously-researched novels set in China's Tang Dynasty, in which Judge Dee investigates a double murder at a Mid-Autumn Literary Festival.Vargas Llosa, Mario, "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter"
, (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982). A semi-autobiographical novel about a young Peruvian aspiring writer and his older divorcee love interest. Their romance ebbs and flows like the melodramatic novelas (daily live soap operas) that are churned out by an older writer at the radio station that employs our young hero.Vila-Matas, Enrique, "Bartleby & Co.
", (NY: New Directions, 2004). An interesting literary novel written ostensibly as a diary entry with multiple subsequent footnotes about reclusive writers, artists and philosophers throughout history.Walshe, Robert, "Wales' Work
", (London: Secker & Warburg, 1985) - Editor Robert Racine is Bob Cratchit to his publisher boss' Scrooge, and must play executor and biographer to this scoundrel when he dies. However, the corpse vanishes and Racine is forced to chase down his former boss throughout the London literary scene.Wilson, Andrew, "The Lying Tongue"
(NY: Atria Books, 2007). A literary thriller in which a young college graduate comes to Venice to serve as an assistant to a J.D. Salingeresque reclusive writer and then decides to secretly write his employer's biography.
Wren, M.C., "Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat", (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973). A Crime Club novel and the author's first book, which features a local bookstore owner as the detective hero, the half-Irish, half-Indian Conan Flagg.
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz, "Shadow of the Wind", (NY: Penguin Press, 2004). An antiquarian book dealer's son finds solace in reading a book by Julian Carax, but when he seeks out other Carax titles, he finds that someone has been systematically destroying all copies of the author's work.
Zevin, Gabrielle, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry", (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014). A.J. Fikry is a widowed owner of a bookstore on a Martha's Vineyard-like island, when his life is changed forever (and for the better) by a snappy dressing publisher's rep and a baby on the doorstep.
This is only a list of biblionovels Rachel and Dan have in our personal collection or on our bookshop shelves, so feel free to recommend other favorites that may be missing.
Have a lovely time reading!