Friday, 24 October 2014

The Book Case by Nelson DeMille

published 2012





I walked to the staircase, which had a sign saying PRIVATE, and began the corkscrew climb. On the way, I tried to recall the two or three times I’d interacted with Mr. Otis Parker here in his store. He was a bearded guy in his early sixties, but could have looked younger if he’d bought a bottle of Grecian Formula. He dressed well, and I remember thinking— the way cops do— that he must have had another source of income. Maybe this store was a front for something. Or maybe I read too many crime novels. I also recalled that Mr. Parker was a bit churlish—though I’d heard him once talking enthusiastically to a customer about collector’s editions, which he sold in the back of the store. I’d sized him up as a man who liked his books more than he liked the people who bought them. In short, a typical bookstore owner.




observations: This short story – a Kindle Single – was recommended to me by my friend Prashant C Trikkanad, of the Chess Comics Crosswords blog. He read my recent entry on the book Miss by LE Usher, set in a London bookshop, and told me of this one, set in a NY bookstore. I’m a fan of Nelson DeMille, and of stories set in bookshops, and a 99p short story doesn’t break my current book-buying embargo, so I was good to go.

It is short and very funny, and tells a fair enough tale of murder in a NY crime bookstore, investigated by one of DeMille’s regular characters, John Corey. DeMille has fun with the whole trope of crime books, shops and publishing – this is typical:
The window on the right featured contemporary bestselling authors like Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille, and others who make more money writing about what I do than I make doing what I do.
I don’t read many of the big best-selling thriller writers, but I make an exception for DeMille - I have enjoyed several of his books, and I really like his humour. I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books too, but DeMille is much funnier and more light-hearted: he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I have seen occasional complaints of misogyny in DeMille and that always surprises me - his heroes are somewhat unreconstructed, but I find the women characters good, and his attitudes (not quite all the time, but mostly) very real and pro-women.

The photograph, from Flickr, is from the Nantucket Historical Association.

12 comments:

  1. I will be uncovering a few of his books as my weekly task of logging continues. I can't remember why I bought him as I have never read him previously and the size of some of his books is a bit off-putting. Something to look forward to though if this is typical of his style.

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    1. I think you will like him Col - they are action-packed, but as I stress above, full of humour and nice characters. Give him a go!

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    2. I'll have to refer to the CCL hand-written scrawl from July 2011 or 12, as I can recall buying them in Lowestoft. Might be speed-reads where the book looks chunky but you stick your head in and emerge 100 pages later - I think the proper term is page-turner. I'll see what I have!

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    3. Let me know what you find - some of them have suited me better than others, but no complete duds...

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  2. Moira, many thanks for the loud roar. I liked this story a lot although I wonder why I never went back and read more by Nelson DeMille. I believe he is a very popular writer. I also liked the picture you chose to accompany your review.

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    1. Thank YOU Prashant - I had never heard of this story, so was really grateful to you for pointing it out. I'm doing a lot of directed reading at the moment, so it was really nice to have a guilt-free timeout with a short story to enjoy.

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  3. Moira - What a great story! And I like that wit too. And of course, you can't beat a bookshop for the perfect setting :-)

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    1. Any bookshop story is going to have something going for it - I think we'd both agree on that!

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  4. There's a name I haven't come across in a while - nice to know he had a humorous side, always grateful for that!

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    1. Indeed. I don't search out his books, but whenever I read one I think, 'oh yeah, he's the epitome of a good read, a rattling good yarn.'

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  5. This is an author I have been wanting to read, but the thing holding me back is the length of the books. I should give in and try one sometime.

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    1. Perhaps you should try this one, as it is so short. I am wary of very long books, but his are page-turners, though perhaps I skim-read some of the more action-y bits....

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