Dirty Book Murder-Thomas Shawver
Book merchant Michael Bevan arrives at the Kansas City auction house hoping to uncover some hidden literary gold. Though the auction ad had mentioned erotica, Michael is amazed to find lovely Japanese Shunga scrolls and a first edition of a novel by French author Colette with an inscription by Ernest Hemingway. This one item alone could fetch a small fortune in the right market. As Michael and fellow dealer Gareth Hughes are warming up for battle, a stranger comes out of nowhere and outbids them—to the tune of sixty grand. But Gareth is unwilling to leave the auction house empty-handed, so he steals two volumes, including the Colette novel. When Gareth is found dead the next day, Michael quickly becomes the prime suspect: Not only had the pair been tossed out of a bar mid-fistfight the night before, but there is evidence from Michael’s shop at the crime scene.
Wow. I was not prepared for how gritty this was. And it was gritty. There's a lot of death. Really violent death described in a lot of detail and with a lot of erotic overtones. And it sneaks up on you. The synopsis is the beginning-a mystery that you want to resolve and then the book descends into pure evil. If you have any hang ups about bondage, torture for sexual pleasure, or power play in sex, avoid this book.
Ok, whoa. So moving on, Bevan is an excellent character-his former life has crashed and he has to make a new way in life. Antiquarian books and a second hand bookshop are his second chance and yet his former life catches up to him. Shawver writes really well (which is what makes the book horrifying), evoking what he needs to and pacing the thriller and mystery well. I particularly liked his setting. Kansas City comes to life in a way that I actually kind of wanted to visit.