About the Whodunit Book Club

Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Hound" by Vincent McCaffrey

If bibliophilia is an illness, then Henry Sullivan is terminal! Books are his work, his life and his love. A book Hound, Henry is a former bookstore employee who now buys and then resells books over the Internet from his home.

A single man in his mid-thirties, Henry’s days are marked by estate sales, library book sales and other quests for saleable books. He enjoys a regular pint and a game of chess with his friend and confidant Albert. He makes the trek across the city of Boston to visit his father whom he seems never to have actually connected with. He shares a passing word with his landlady whom he respects and admires.

His heretofore predictable, mundane life is upturned when his landlady dies. He learns he will soon be losing his rent controlled apartment when her house is sold. This development, though troubling, absolutely pales to insignificance when Morgan Johnson, an old flame, calls him to value her husband’s books. One wonders if he is thinking of rekindling the flame when he learns of Morgan’s death the day after his visit with her. She was an important part of his life in the past and he is profoundly disturbed by her passing. Her book collection which was filled with many signed first editions was very valuable -- but would someone kill her for it?

In attempting to discover how Morgan died Henry becomes enmeshed in her family’s secrets. She was the second wife of a prominent publisher and traveled extensively. Her family and extended family hid troubles, resentments and deceptions beneath a thin veneer of respectability that their wealth and renown afforded them. Was murder kept in the family as well?

Somewhat reminiscent of John Dunning’s Bookman novels, this is a mystery novel that is more novel than mystery. Literary in both style and subject, Hound is a novel for those who enjoy a more sedately paced story.
If you are looking for action you won’t find it here. Filled with anecdotes and asides on bookselling and the love of reading, Vincent McCaffrey’s love for books absolutely drips from the pages. If you share that obsession, then you will be touched and moved by his words.

Vincent McCaffrey is obviously a man so well read that he seems to have gleaned a deep understanding of human nature from his studies. His characters are appealing and sympathetic and his story well plotted. I look forward to his next novel after what was a most enjoyable debut.


Gaye said...

Okay, my copy has arrived and now I just need to read it. Hope to do so very soon. Gaye

Gaye said...

Lynne, I just finished "Hound" and it was a pleasant read...well paced. I enjoyed Henry's love of books; no matter what he was doing or who he was seeing it always led to books. The part of the book I liked the very best, and I can see it so clearly, is the hidden room
Henry's friend, Albert, found when he was clearing out a house so it could be demolished. Also, how McCafffrey was able to resolve that part of his story was really well done. Actually, I wouldn't have minded if Henry spent more time focused in this direction.
Also, Henry being forced to move makes a smooth beginning to the next novel (if there is one). I did learn much more regarding collecting, cleaning and purchasing books from John Dunning's novels. However, "Hound" was not a waste of my time. Gaye