Henry Sullivan is a book hound. He buys books at estate and library sales, most often selling them to other dealers and bookstore owners. Morgan Johnson, once his lover now recently widowed, ask Henry to appraise the library of her late husband with plans to donate the collection. When Morgan is found strangled, Henry becomes the initial suspect. Although the police release him from that role, Henry does want to know who killed Morgan.
This is a real book lover's book. McCaffrey, the author, is the owner of Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop, located for 30 years on Newbury Street in Boston but now an online bookstore. The greatest pleasure, in reading this book, comes from his insights on book lovers--"...The ones who really loved the books liked to browse, dip into a page here and there, and feel the cloth and smell the paper."--readers, collectors, non-readers--"Maybe some rainy day, they'll read one of these book and it will change their lives or at least make them want to read another. It's possible."--Reader's Digest editions and a very frank look at the publishing industry.
As a mystery, it's not particularly strong. The characters are not fully developed. I finished the book not really know who Henry is as a person, but identifying with him as a book lover. The other characters were interesting, but remained enigmatic.
The sense of place is strong when the setting is a room containing books, but although the book is set in Boston--a city I lived in and love--there was no real sense of the city. The mystery is there and interesting but, as befitting the character, not very suspenseful. However, I did very much like the ending.
This is one of those books I find hard to rate. As a mystery on its own, it was only good at best. As homage to those of us who love the written word and the vessels in which they are contained, it was excellent. For me, if McCaffrey writes a second mystery, I shall definitely read it.
HOUND (Ama. Sleuth-Henry Sullivan-Boston-Cont) - VG
McCaffrey, Vincent - 1st mystery
Small Beer Press, 2009, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9781931520591