A Slepyng Hound to Wake
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Praise for Vincent McCaffrey’s A Slepyng Hound to Wake
“Vincent McCaffrey offers a real insider’s view in A Slepyng Hound to Wake—a quote from Chaucer—the sequel to the splendid hit, Hound. I’d call them “biblio-noirs” rather than bibliomysteries: the deeds are dark even though bookhound Henry Sullivan becomes involved in what first seem academic rather than criminal matters. How likely is it that the possible ripping-off (OK, plagiarism) of a bestselling author could lead to murder? Dark, too, is Henry’s outlook on his professional world where centuries of tradition are daily eroded by digital publishing and internet bookselling. This gloom carries over into his relationships, freighting them in a classic noir fashion. Still, Henry is a character cut from Raymond Chandler: a modern knight on a mission to save those, and what, he loves.”
“In McCaffrey’s compelling second mystery to feature Boston book dealer Henry Sullivan (after 2009’s Hound), Henry is unsettled by the murder of a fellow “book hound” down on his luck, Eddy Perry, who just sold Henry a rare volume of Lovecraft horror stories. Later, former girlfriend Barbara Krause, the owner of Alcott & Poe, an independent bookstore, asks Henry’s help in investigating a plagiarism case. Sharon Greene, one of Barbara’s employees, has accused a local literary heavyweight, George Duggan, of stealing from the work of the late James Frankowski, a little-known writer with whom Sharon lived for years. Meanwhile, Barbara struggles to keep Alcott & Poe afloat in an era of recession and e-commerce. A longtime bookstore owner himself, McCaffrey places less emphasis on crime solving than on the larger question of the printed word’s place in today’s world. Evocative prose and characterizations will remind many of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer novels.”
First Chapter Preview
The books were like corpses, the ink of lost dreams dried in their veins. On a bad day, Henry Sullivan felt like a mortician salvaging the moldering flesh of small decaying bodies to be preserved for a proper burial. But, on a good day, though there seemed to be fewer of those of late, he might save something which left him giddy.
Henry pulled the second box free from a mat of cat hair and dust beneath the bed, and peeked beneath the lid.
The foul odor of the mattress too close to his face, made him swallow the word along with the impulse to gag.
A month before, after lifting the spoiled leaves of disbound volumes abandoned in a basement beneath the seep of a ruined foundation, he had uncovered loose pages sheltered by a collapsed box of empty Croft Ale bottles. Separating the layers until the fetor of mold had made him dizzy, he had salvaged a bundle six inches thick of cream colored rag paper broadsides, announcements, and advertisements, all in French. They had been discarded by a print collector interested only in the engravings originally meant to illustrate the words. And in the heart of that, Henry had found a first printing of ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.’
Those rare sheets were sold now to the highest bidder, but they were a part of the romance Henry imagined about himself. It was still his belief that long before Foucault and Derrida, when words still offered a common meaning, the world could be changed by the content of a few fragile pages. And this was why Henry Sullivan loved his job.
And this happened every once in awhile, more often to him than others he thought, because he had a nose for it.
Henry pushed a broom handle into the depths of the crevice below the bed frame. Again he heard the hollow strike on a box…