The Club Dumas.
The Club Dumas started off as a really great, geeky murder mystery and then dissolved into silliness about halfway through, which was a let down. It opens with wonderfully seedy characters and a good sense of humor that comes through despite the translation. And hey, it’s a book about books, which is always awesome.
The plot is a bit complicated to recap, so I’m borrowing from Amazon’s blurb by Publishers Weekly: The hero 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.
Intriguing, right? And so I picked it up and was rather captivated by Corso and his upfront but less-than-savory actions. Dead bodies follow Corso wherever he goes, but it’s unclear whether it’s related to the Dumas chapter or the books on summoning the devil he’s also tracking down (though the nature of the latter search would seem to lend itself to dead bodies). Additionally, he hooks up with a dark-haired girl who keeps saving his life, appears to be the devil incarnate, and doesn’t care at all about The Three Musketeers. All of these factors seem promising, and yet, I was incredibly let down by the lameness of the ending.
However, I will say that for a book geek, this was a great read in that several dozen books were mentioned throughout the novel, as well as details about old school book-binding, printing, and a fairly interesting history of Dumas and his works. For all of these reasons, I’m not sorry I read it. I’d just advise focusing on these areas of the book rather than whether the plot holds water.
As a side note, this book was also the basis of the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, which I have not seen.