Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte & Memoir Club

I finished the Club Dumas three days ago and I am still thinking about it. It was recomended to me by those friends who know that I adored "Shadow of the Wind" by Spanish author Carlos Ruis Zafon. Club Dumas was also a translated work, but it has an entirely different flavor from the upbeat and fascinating Zafon tome. The main character, Corso, is a coarse, cynical man who finds rare books by any means necessary to sell to various thuggish and evil clientelle. He has little in the way of morals, but he does have a love of books that redeems him only slightly. His dealings with women also seem crude and usurious, until he meets "Irene Adler" who has named herself after the only women to best Sherlock Holmes. What, exactly, Adler is (angel? fallen angel? demon?) is never really addressed, so we are left to wonder why she has fallen in love with Corso and what their fate together will be. We are also left to wonder, at the end, if the evil book collector gets what he paid for. We know only that he screams, and that Corso leaves. A rather unsatisfying ending, and the loose end of Adler, her background and why she feels the need to protect Corso (and who sent her to do so?) left me with a more bitter than sweet attitude toward the book. I would only recomend it to those who are serious Dumas fans, or those who are fascinated by 17th century rare manuscripts and how to spot a fake.
Oddly enough, I picked up a wonderful book today from Island Books (on Mercer Island) called "The Memoir Club" by Laura Kalpakian that looks to be great fun. It's about a group of women who get together to write their memoirs. I also got a copy of "The Wizard of Seattle" by Kay Hooper in mass market paperback on the recomendation of an bibliophile online. In looking it over, it appears to be a romance with a bit of fantasy thrown in for good measure. I am not a fan of modern romance, mainly because the writing is ludicrous, the characters stereotypical and the plots laughable. So far, the silly writing is there, but I am uncertain as to the depth of the plot. Fortunately, I didn't invest too much in it because it was a mass market paperback. I also finished Laurie R Kings "Locked Rooms" which is the 8th or 9th book in her Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell mysteries. I read the first book in the series, and hadn't read any of the books inbetween, so I was uncertain of what to expect. But the book proved fascinating, a fast and enticing read that kept you thinking throughout. Of course, the reader knows what is going to happen chapters before the denoument, but I find that to be true of most modern mystery books. I find the banter between Holmes and Russell quite amusing, and yet, I recall thinking that Mary Russell was a huge pain in the rump as a character, and I couldn't imagine what Holmes found to like about her, as she wasn't a pleasant person at all. She was even less pleasant in this book, while Holmes came off as the ultimate gracious old gent trying to keep his beloved out of harms way and solve the mystery of her familys death. I learned a great deal about the San Francisco fire of 1906, and about flappers and the mores of that era, which I appreciated, as many authors don't bother to give you a solid picture of what people and their mileu was like in any given era. I also find it bothersome that Russell seems to need rescuing too often, in the first book and in this one. She's supposedly a smart and tough woman, yet she becomes catatonic when she learns her therapist is dead. And Holmes has to take care of her throughout the book, because she just seems to regularly go out of her mind and forget how to eat or take a bath, which is pathetic for a supposedly strong woman. But, other than those nitpicks, it was an enjoyable book with a brisk plot and engaging characters.

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