If you love books, what could be better than reading books about books, or books about being inside books or people who get to hang around books. (That was a statement, not a question.) Here are some of my favorite bibliophile mysteries and thrillers.
The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
A thriller set in Barcelona in 1945, The Shadow of the Wind, follows the story of a book dealer’s son who loves a book called Shadow of the Wind, but someone is out to destroy all copies of the book and the boy may have the last one. His curiosity leads him to stumble upon secrets that the book destroyer wants kept secret.
After Shadow, Zafón wrote The Angel’s Game about an unpublished novelist who takes a deal to be published that’s too good to be true. Also set in Barcelona, the protagonist, David, in The Angel’s Game is accused on a string of murders related to the novel and starts to wonder if he’s going crazy.
The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Also set in Spain, an antiquarian book seller/expert/tracker, Lucas Corso, is asked to do two separate jobs: authenticate part of an original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and authenticate one of three books that supposedly summon the Devil. That’s the beginning of the trouble for Corso that takes him through the intersection of the two jobs, through plot twists that pay homage to Dumas’s other work and an encounter with a character named after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene Adler. It is nearly impossible to describe this book in a paragraph. You’ll just have to go read it for yourself.
The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
This series involves characters who can hop in and out of books as they solve crime and try to protect the book world. There is some time travel involved and a lot of humor. A combination of fantasy and mystery these books are great fun, but suspension of disbelief is required. The first three books of this series are the best, so I recommend starting with The Eyre Affair in which Thursday Next tries to protect massive plot deviations that could have lasting ramifications for Jane and Mr. Rochester.
The Death on Demand Series by Carolyn G. Hart
Annie Laurance Darling owns a mystery bookstore on a fictional Coastal Carolina Island called Broward’s Rock. She runs into more murder on an average week than Jessica Fletcher did in a small town in Maine on Murder, She Wrote. Annie and her husband, the handsome lawyer turned detective, Max, work together to solve murders, sell books, and hold Agatha Christie book contests at the store.
The Cliff Janeway books by John Dunning
Cliff Janeway, a former cop who can’t quite leave this old job behind, becomes a seller of rare books in Denver. His quest for books always leads him into trouble. Simon and Schuster recently released the first two Janeway books—Booked to Die and Bookman’s Wake—as e-books. All of these books are are great reads and worth digging out at a used book store.
The Cotton Malone books by Steve Berry
More thriller than mystery, ex-Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, like Janeway retires and tries to hang out stress-free as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen, but he can’t quite manage it. These fast paced books take Cotton on the search for valuable historical information and works, like the Library of Alexandria or the clues in Charlemagne’s tomb that can alter the course of mankind. Start with the first book, The Templar Legacy, because you don’t want to miss an installment of this series.
What are some of your favorite bibliophile mysteries and thrillers?