Vincent McCaffrey - published July 2011
9781931520263 · 288 pp · July 19, 2011 · trade cloth/ebook
In his second bibliomystery, Boston bookhound Henry Sullivan has a new girlfriend, a new apartment, and a shelfload of troubles.
Chaucer said “It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.” Henry Sullivan, bookhound, is ready to be that sleeping dog: to settle down in his new apartment and enjoy life with his new girlfriend.
But the underside of the literary world won’t let him go. A bookscout sells Henry a book—and is murdered later that night. An old friend asks him to investigate a case of possible plagiarism involving a local bestselling author. To make matters worse, his violinist neighbor seems to have a stalker. And wherever Henry goes, there’s a cop watching him.
Henry can read the signs: to save those he loves he has to save himself.
“In 22 years of bookselling I find that readers remain endlessly fascinated with an insider look at the book business—an oxymoron right there.
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.”
—Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen
“McCaffrey makes good use of his Boston setting. . . . Slepyng Hound provides an easy, intelligent read.”
“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.”
“There’s a Woody Allen tone to this one, and you’ll enjoy sharing it with bibliophiles or anyone who appreciates quirky characters. The plotting and weaving of story lines hide a clever puzzle, but most readers will forget they’re reading a mystery until all the pieces fall into place at the very end. Lisa Lutz fans could like this.”
“Henry’s second (Hound, 2009) is not for those who require a fast and furious story line. The strong mystery is woven into a slow-paced, philosophical discussion of the painful demise of those special bookstores whose nooks and crannies once yielded fabulous finds.”
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 hand into the depths of the crevice below the bed frame. Again he heard the hollow strike on a box. . . .
Praise for Hound:
“There’s something charismatic and timeless about the way the story builds and McCaffrey opens Henry’s life to the reader . . . McCaffrey is . . . just telling a compelling, old-school yarn, the kind of story a man who knows his literature tells.”
—Time Out Chicago
“For the true bibliophile, this is a book you’ll love.”
Cover by Tom Canty.
Vincent McCaffrey’s novel Hound was chosen as a Must-Read Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. He has owned the Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop for more than thirty years. He has been paid to do lawn work, shovel snow, paint houses, and to be an office-boy, warehouse grunt, dishwasher, waiter, and hotel night clerk. He has chosen at various times to be a writer, editor, publisher, and bookseller. A Slepying Hound to Wake is his second novel and he is hard at work on the next novel featuring Henry Sullivan.