Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Club Dumas

The Club Dumas
Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte

First Sentence
"The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall."
Publisher's Description:
Lucas Corso, middle-aged, tired, and cynical, is a book detective, a mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found hanged, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas's "The Three Musketeers, " Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment.

The task seems straightforward, but the unsuspecting Corso is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas's masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris in pursuit of a sinister and seemingly omniscient killer. Part mystery, part puzzle, part witty intertextual game, "The Club Dumas" is a wholly original intellectual thriller by the internationally bestselling author of "The Flanders Panel" and "The Seville Communion."

Dear Reader,

This is definitely one of those books that only true bibliophiles will love. I couldn’t get into it myself much for the first section, even though it talked all about rare books and those who love them. I felt like, honestly, the story didn’t really pick up until like the last third of the novel, but you really did have to go through all of the earlier stuff in order to get anything out of the later happenings. You just wish you had known that at the time you had to slog through some of the early material….

However, I did, all-in-all, like the book and how it circled around a lost-to-history book which examined the nature of the devil and centered around nine engravings. I also really loved the Dumas connection, although I’d highly recommend to anyone who was planning to read this book that they ought to read or re-read at least The Three Musketeers (if not others of Dumas’ work, as well) before diving into this adventure, because SO much of the action and content revolves around at least the 3Ms. I am certain I missed many of the references and allusions to Dumas works, as I read the Musketeers when I was something like 14, and even The Count of Monte Cristo (a true favorite of mine) was several years ago, and while easier for me to remember, still only a more distant memory.

The main character was not terribly likable either, although I’m certain that’s what the author meant to do there. And his relationship that developed mid-book did not seem all that believable, but hey - generally the people who fall in love with each other are just as surprised as the outsiders are. So it wasn’t that the story wasn’t believable that bothered me, but something felt slightly off the whole time...although, I suppose that was largely because the entire book was very “meta”, with the protagonist recognizing how things would go were he the main character in a novel. That was probably my favorite part: his omniscient understanding of his role and his place in the story as a character, written in by another. The author did great with that little bit.

Overall, an enjoyable book for a book-lover, that is for sure. I definitely enjoyed the ride, especially when things actually started moving. But, looking back on the book as a whole, I do understand how it all fell together now, and needed to be presented how it was.


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