When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas’s masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris on the killer’s trail in this twisty intellectual romp through the book world.
Alllllll righty, then! Hot diggity! A book about books. Can there be anything better? No. The answer to that question is no, unless it is a book about books written by a wonderful writer, and translated by a wonderful translator.
Our guy Corso is hired by two different people to investigate two different manuscripts. One is to ascertain if a handwritten manuscript of a chapter of Dumas’ most famous work is a forgery, and the other is to find the other two extant copies of a book on Satan written in the 1660s, and for which the publisher was burned at the stake, along with all but these three copies, of his infamous book.
The Dumas inquiry is set up by a Dumas fanatic and book collector, to follow the steps of the novel, and Corso is just part of the ‘play’. The other is set up by a collector who has gone over the edge and wants the three copies which contain a key to summoning the devil himself. None of this ends well.
Fun read, a mystery for you mystery fans, lots of references to famous (old) books, and to Dumas and his works. If you like Dumas and/or demonology, you will love this. If you like puzzles and the secrets of the occult, you will love this.
First published in 1998, it has had several later publishings. It won a bunch of awards, and rightly so.