Biblios–Part 2

Biblios = Books about Books

Ah, so many more bookshop mysteries have come to light since I wrote the first article about biblios. And that was only a couple of days ago. Ok, so maybe they just didn’t ‘pop’ up, per se, I may have missed them the first time around. But to make up for this oversight–let’s take a gander at a couple more. Bodies in a Bookshop–the title should have caught my eye, I admit–a 1946 book by R. T. Campbell (never heard of him or her) introduces Professor John Stubbs as he discovers the bodies of the owner and a customer in the rear of a bookshop. Hence the bodies in the bookshop title.

The Luxury of Exile is more esoteric in atmosphere. Claude Wooldridge  acquires a antiquarian bookstore. He finds old letters that are connected to the poet Lord Byron. Wooldridge becomes obsessed with uncovering Byron’s secrets and while doing so, crosses the line between reality and fantasy. Written by Louis Buss fairly recently, 1997. Blue Octavo by John Blackburn delves into the antiquarian book market. At an auction, a usually low priced mountain climbing title inexplicably is bought for a fortune, and the mystery deepens when the book buyer is found hanging from a rafter the next day.

In Murder in Grub Street goes a few bodies further than the bookshop mystery title above. In this historical plot featuring Sir John Fielding, an entire family is slaughtered, including the bookshop owner. Jon Breen wrote a couple of mysteries starring Rachel Hennings, an L. A. bookseller. One title has her involved in an old murder of a Hollywood writer the other she buys an collection from another Hollywood writer who is murdered on the morning of the sale. (Two biblio themes in one book! Twice!) Here’s a real pip of a plot! A Bostonian poet while giving a reading in a bookshop, claims he can disappear into a fourth dimension. The following day the bookseller goes poof–disappears, the poet following behind. A 1926 title by Florence Converse, this appears to be a rather rare read–really? I ask? Why ever would that be? LOL. I’ll conclude this second part of bookstore mysteries with a favorite title and film–The Big Sleep. Although the main thrust of the plot is not biblio in nature,the time spent by Philip Marlowe in a couple of antiquarian bookshops, one with a lovely bookseller, and the pursuit of a gang of pornographers qualifies it as a biblio. If for some really odd reason you’ve not seen the Humphrey Bogart version of the book–do yourself a favor and rent it–his ‘impersonation’ of a collector is hilarious.

I have a notion that I could be listing bookshop crime fiction novels all day, there may be so many, so I’ll move on to that insane individual known as the ‘collector’. I happen to be one of those nuts, but have never considered killing anyone for a particular title, not even The Plumley Inheritance. However, the characters within these biblios have no such moral compass. An international flavored book by Marten Cumberland, Grave Consequences is set in Paris where a man who collected anonymously authored books?!! is murdered. What on earth would that collection consist of? How many books out there have no author? I’m betting far more than I would think possible. In Books for the Baron, John Creasey 1952,  stolen books are hunted down by John Mannering and within that search he encounters many of the people who make up the book selling and buying world. Here’s one for the over the top crowd–The Locked Book by Frank L. Packard. A war lord, no less, is in the market for a rare book, and he searches throughout Malaysia for it.

Once again, I’ve found that my research is uncovering so many titles and sub-genres that I need to pace these articles out, so I’m not adding titles to one genre, in every article, lol. So, I’ll stop here for now, because I’ve found more library mysteries, and many books with a writer as protagonist, some titles with rare letters as the plot line, newspaper writers, publishers, editors, diaries, real literary people as detectives, characters in books as detectives, people who study and write or teach literature, comic books in plots, collecting pulp fiction, sigh, I think the possibilities are endless. So many imaginative writers coming up with varied and unusual ways to explore books about books!

Stay tuned–more to come.

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