book review: the club dumas

Arturo Perez-Reverte’s book The Club Dumas is a mystery about books and demonology and the Three Musketeers. The main character, Corso, is a bookfinder who tracks down books for collectors. Now, this is European book-collecting so we’re talking about first editions of things in quartos and folios and such from the 1500s. Corso is trying to get a hand-written chapter from the Three Musketeers authenticated and track down the other two extant copies of a book to summon the devil to determine which is the forgery. The story moves along like a good detective story should. There are a couple of fights and you learn a lot about book binding and heretics and the three musketeers. There’s a lot of intertextual stuff going on so it’s probably a good idea to have read the Three Musketeers beforehand, though not strictly necessary. It’s a bit like Foucault’s Pendulum or In the Name of the Rose (and Umberto Eco does make a cameo in the story), but you don’t have to think as hard or know as much.

My copy of the book is the signed Subterranean Press edition, which feels good considering the subject matter. It’s got colour illustrations and is on fancy nice paper, so it makes the reading experience a bit more classy, like I’m some sort of book-collector too.

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