Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Book Review: The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

Completion Date: May 7, 2014
Length: 220 Pages
In this smart, fast-paced mystery debut, Thomas Shawver introduces a charming, unlikely hero from the rarefied world of antique books.
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.
Now the attorney-turned-bookman must find out who wanted the Colette so badly that they would kill for it—and frame Michael. Desperate to stay out of police custody, Michael follows the murderer’s trail into the wealthiest echelons of the city, where power and influence meet corruption—and mystery and eroticism are perverted by pure evil. Unfortunately for Michael, one dead book dealer is only the opening chapter in a terrifying tale of high culture and lowlifes.

Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: Crime Fiction.

What Lead You to Pick-up This Book?: I read it as part of a TLC Book Tour, but I have to admit that I wanted to read it because I was expecting a book about books. I love those!

Summarize the Plot: The book opens discussing the bookstore that Michael Bevan owns. I enjoyed the descriptions and his trip to an auction that sets off the chain of events that makes up the plot of this book. Part of me was wondering when the book was going to get going. Then, there was this other part of me that wanted to see more of the bookstore. (I like books afterall!) After about 50 pages Michael gets into an altercation with Gareth Hughes. Gareth was at the auction I mentioned before and things didn't go so well for either of them. It is when Gareth turns up dead that things really get interesting. The world that this death opens up is strange. I am not sure what to even think of what this book explores behind closed doors. You will have to read the book to find out more.

What Did You Like Most About the Book?: Well, I always appreciate a book that has books as its background. Michael owns a bookstore that we get to explore a bit. The bookish connection is why I wanted to read the book in the first place.

What Did You Like the Least?: Unfortunately, the book was a bit predictable. The fact that I can almost always solve the mystery is why I don't read a lot of crime novels. The plus side was there was still a bit of mystery to other aspects of the novel that were slightly less predictable. I think it evened out.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: For a crime novel, I felt that the author was a bit too caught up in physical appearances. I really only need the basics from secondary characters and I don't really care if they are good looking or not. For whatever reason, the characters just didn't stick in my mind.

What Did You Think of the Main Character?: I didn't love Michael, but then I didn't hate him either. I think he is a character that has to be explored and the first book was only sort of an introduction. He has done so much in his life all ready that I am not entirely sure we really get to know the 'real him'.

What Did You Think of the Ending?: The ending just got weird. I think I was expecting lighter reading than what the book actually resulted in! I blame the cover. And, I also was expecting something entirely different when the title was 'dirty' books.

Overall, I didn't hate the book. I don't read a lot of mystery series and probably wouldn't have read this one if not for the tour, title, and cover. I am not entirely sure if the second book will work for me just because I think I was looking for something different for this series, but I am probably in the minority compared to people that read mystery novels all the time. That being said, I am curious about how the rare book element will play through the rest of the books.


  1. I have this book coming up and haven't been sure what to expect from it given the summary. I like the rare book theme but am a little worried about the ending! Great review!

  2. I am on the fence about reading this one. I do like that the main character owns a bookstore though, so maybe.

  3. Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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