Vincent McCaffrey - published September 2009
Now available in paperback with a new cover by Tom Canty.
“Death was, after all, the way Henry made his living.”
“Henry Sullivan, book dealer & bibliophile, has his life thrown into turmoil when his Beacon Hill landlady dies and a former lover is found murdered. A debut novel by the owner of Boston’s beloved Victor Hugo Bookshop.”
—A Must-Read Book from the Massachusetts Book Awards (pdf link)
“A hell of a tale. A murder and the trail to catching him leads through the world of book collectors (Bookhounds) and the things they love. Fans of Dunning will enjoy this.”
“If bibliophilia is an illness, then Henry Sullivan is terminal! Books are his work, his life and his love. . . . Filled with anecdotes and asides on bookselling and the love of reading, Vincent McCaffrey’s love for books absolutely drips from the pages. If you share that obsession, then you will be touched and moved by his words. Vincent McCaffrey is obviously a man so well read that he seems to have gleaned a deep understanding of human nature from his studies. His characters are appealing and sympathetic and his story well plotted. I look forward to his next novel after what was a most enjoyable debut.”
A bookhound, Henry Sullivan buys and sells books he finds at estate auctions and library sales around Boston and often from the relatives of the recently deceased. He’s in his late thirties, single, and comfortably set in his ways. But when a woman from his past, Morgan Johnson, calls to ask him to look at her late husband’s books, he is drawn into the dark machinations of a family whose mixed loyalties and secret history will have fatal results.
Hound is the first of a series of novels featuring Henry Sullivan, and the debut novel of a long-time Boston bookseller, Vincent McCaffrey. It is a paean to books, bookselling, and the transformative power of the printed word. Even as it evolves into a gripping murder mystery, it is also a reminder that there are still quiet corners of the world where the rhythms of life are calmer, where there’s still time for reading, time for getting out for a beer with friends, time to investigate the odd details of lives lived on the edges of the book world.
As the true story unfolds, its mysteries are also of the everyday sort: love found and love lost, life given and life taken away. At the center is Henry himself, with his troubled relationships and his love of old books. There’s his landlady Mrs. Prowder whose death unsettles Henry’s life and begins the sequence of events that overturns it. There’s the secret room his friend Albert discovers while doing refuse removal, a room that reveals the story of a woman who lived and loved a century ago.
And throughout the novel are those of us whose lives revolve around books: the readers, writers, bookstore people, and agents—as well as Henry, the bookhound, always searching for the great find, but usually just getting by, happy enough to be in the pursuit.
Hound was chosen for two First Mystery Bookclubs and was on the Select 70 at Harvard Book Store (which means 20% off). Vincent McCaffrey read in Boston, Amherst, Portsmouth, New York City, and more. See our calendar or Booktour. He’ll be going on the road again in June 2011 when the next book in the series, A Slepying Hound to Wake comes out.
On the web:
“Ingenious and refreshingly irreverent, Hound is not only a mystery on many levels, but also an intelligent—and often funny—tour-de-force of the perils and follies of human relationships. McCaffrey has a gift for crafting quirky characters and original dialogue, and the path of our hero, Henry, is always wonderfully unpredictable. I came away from this ‘book noir’ with a sense of catharsis, but also with a sudden desire to reread and rethink all the great classics to which McCaffrey alludes in his terrific novel.”
—Anne Fortier, Juliet
“McCaffrey, the owner of Boston’s legendary Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop, succeeds in conveying his love of books in his intriguing debut.”
“Hound is billed as a mystery, and it’s a good one, but its fuse is long and its pace befitting an old bookshop. That’s a good thing. There’s something charismatic and timeless about the way the story builds and McCaffrey opens Henry’s life to the reader. It wasn’t until the action started to heat up about 100 or so pages in that we remembered we were reading a mystery at all. And while we’re a little tired of books about books and the people who love them—which often come off more as marketing initiatives—McCaffrey is never cloying or playing to demographic. He’s just telling a compelling, old-school yarn, the kind of story a man who knows his literature tells.”
—Time Out Chicago
Early Reader Reaction:
“Vincent McCaffrey’s debut mystery is crammed with stories, with likable, eccentric characters, much like his marvelous Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop—of all the bookstores in the world, the one I still miss most of all. Like all good mysteries, Hound concerns more than murder: it’s rich in detail and knowledgeable asides about bookselling, the world of publishing, and life lived in the pubs, shabby apartments, penthouses, and strange corners of the city of Boston.”
—Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters
“McCaffrey’s bookseller, Henry Sullivan, is as endearing, frustrating, and compelling a character I’ve come across in some time. Hound is more than Henry’s show, however. It’s a slow burn murder mystery, a sharp character study, a detailed exploration of Boston, and a mediation on the secrets of history—both personal and universal. But I’m wasting our precious time trying to pigeonhole his wonderful first novel. Hound is, quite simply, a great book.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep.
Cover photo: David Fokos.
Download cover for print.
Author photo courtesy of Thais Coburn.
Vincent McCaffrey has owned and operated the Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop for more than thirty years, first in Boston, and now online from Abington, Massachusetts. He has been paid by others to do lawn work, shovel snow, paint houses, and to be an office-boy, warehouse grunt, dishwasher, waiter, and hotel night clerk. He has since chosen at various times to be a writer, editor, publisher, and bookseller. He can still remember the first time he sold books for money in 1963—and what most of those books were. Hound is his first novel.
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