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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making antiquarian books exciting? Here's how.
Five stars without hesitation. This is a true, break-neck speed, thriller somewhat in the flavour of The Thirty-Nine Steps. In fact, if you dig deep enough there are other parallels. Set in the scholastic and obsessive world of antique book collections, Perez-Reverte manages to infuse his writing, and his characters, with a infectious passion for the literary classics. In...
Published on 11 Mar 2003 by doctor-skel

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but too much Satanism.
The Dumas Club is an original mystery thriller set in the world of antiquarian books. In which antiquarian book hunter Lucas Corso investigates a possible Dumas manuscript and a satanic book. As he travels from Madrid to Portugal and then to Paris he finds himself pursued by villains from Dumas' classic novel. Unfortunately the combination of The Three Musketeers and...
Published on 11 Jun 2000


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making antiquarian books exciting? Here's how., 11 Mar 2003
Five stars without hesitation. This is a true, break-neck speed, thriller somewhat in the flavour of The Thirty-Nine Steps. In fact, if you dig deep enough there are other parallels. Set in the scholastic and obsessive world of antique book collections, Perez-Reverte manages to infuse his writing, and his characters, with a infectious passion for the literary classics. In Lucas Corso we find a typically Perez-Revertine lead (a modest and withdrawn existential hero of curious yet fanatical habits - a man living in the past) struggling with familiar themes of murder, intregue, and especially, conspiracy. Naturally this is a conspiracy bound-up with at least one feme fatal. Here the plot surrounds Corso's expertese in authenticating collectable antique publications, one of which is an Alexandre Dumas manuscript. The other text is similarly old, similarly precious work - the demonic 'Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows', a text that cost it's author his life and possibly even his soul. It is these two strands that come together so potently in this book as members of the mysterious 'Dumas Club' and collectors of the occult become indistinguishable as Corso is pursued across Europe leaving a trail of corpses in their wake. Such pressure is always required to draw-out Perez-Revertes's characters' true natures - and here some of Corso's more dubious character traits emerge, leaving as ambiguous but believeable a human-being as you will find in modern fiction. However, it is the technique of the classic mystery/thriller that makes this such an extrodinary exciting read. Sadly it is one that is absent from the feature film - directed by Roman Polanski and staring Johnny Depp - The Nine Gates. So my advice is both to read this book, and to read it first: since, of the two strands of the novel, Polanski takes only the occult (cheerfully removing characters, rearranging plotlines) and shamefully makes Corso an American purely for the benefit of americans. The result is a rather formulaic occult-horror flick that co-stars his wife. Enjoy the book first and you'll find the film receives an added dimention as a result.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devil in the details, 4 Aug 2006
By 
This review is from: THE Club Dumas (Paperback)
I'm writing this review in response to the one above it, although erudite it might put some people off that would take great pleasure from this novel.

I must confess that I only looked into reading this after seeing the film that's based on it, The Ninth Gate, which captures the atmosphere created in the novel brilliantly, that of a fevered, devoted set of uber-collectors of demonic texts - and the lengths that they will go to obtain others.

In my opinion if you are a lover of books, have a smattering of knowledge of the occult and can suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours then this is one of the most rewarding literary experiences that I've had recently. Like the reviewer sharing the page with me, I too am a bibliophile.

For best results, I recommend reading this whilst listening to the film soundtrack by the immensely talented Wojciech Kilar, or indeed anything by him.

My only complaint is that there is a dearth of similar material of sufficient quality to go on to once you have finished.....
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality, 31 Mar 2004
This review is from: The Dumas Club (Paperback)
I loved this book.
I am a fan of mystery and intrigue, and this book is nothing but! About the world of antique books and the lengths some will go to get their hands on them, it starts as a mystery and descends into devilry and murder.
It is the story of a man hired to find the only three known copies of a 16th century book on Satanism for which the author was burned alive. His client wants the books, he just wants his money. But as events unfold, things suddenly don’t seem as black and white as he first thought. More and more the puzzle points to the long dead author Alexander Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers. How is his work related? And what does it have to do with a well-known book collector, found hanged days earlier...
Quality stuff!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Occult and literary plot twists and turns, 2 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This novel which features two intertwined story threads, one regarding a Dumas manuscript and the other the quest to authenticate a satanic text kept me guessing to the end. Perez-Reverte skillfully combines fact and fiction to create a convincing world where fabled books such as the Delomalenicon (like HP Lovecrafts' Necronomicon) are real and the boundaries of reality and fantasy become blurred. Buy it, you wont be able to put it down.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars response to "wheatear", 21 Feb 2003
I think i can clear up a small matter. It is more likely no mistake has been made in accounting for the books of Dumas' series on the three Musketeers. In france, as far as i am aware, the series is a trilogy, with the last three books ("The Vicount de Bragelonne", "Louise de la Valliere" and "The Man in the Iron Mask") all being contained in one volume called "The Vicount de Bragelonne, or Ten Years After". It is only in English that by habit the three sections of this final book are divided into three shorter works. I assume therefore that the author, reading either the origional french or a similar spanish translation, would only be aware of the "trilogy" and not the five book production we are used to in the English world. The confusion is obvious from the simmilar titles used in France and England. As for "The Dumas Club" itself, it is a suberbly written and involving book which i was unable to put down. One of the best i have read in years.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You're as dead as your books, Corso, 7 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Dumas Club (Paperback)
"The Dumas Club" was first published in 1993, and was first translated into English in 1996. "The Ninth Gate", which was directed by Roman Polanski and starred Johnny Depp, was loosely based on the novel.

The story is told by Boris Balkan, a rather well-known in Spain's publishing industry. He's done the occasional translation, edited a few other books, written reviews and ran courses for writers- as such, he's regarded as Spain's most influential literary critic. In fact, when someone needs an opinion on the nineteenth century novel, Balkan is the man to ask. It's this expertise that leads to his meeting with Lucas Corso - who proves to be the story's central character.

Corso is what Balkan describes as a "mercenary of the book world". He works for a very small number of clients - exceptionally rich book dealers who pay very well to avoid getting their hands dirty. He does appear to be very good at his job - patient, an excellent memory, an expert knowledge of the literary world and a conscience that doesn't bother him unduly. He has also mastered a number of rabbit-like expressions, designed to tease more information out of the person he's questioning. However, he can change from a rabbit sharing half a carrot to a mean wolf, off on the hunt, in an instant. (He is also an expert on Napoleon's battles, and has a certain obsession with Waterloo in particular). Corso comes to Balkan with a manuscript he's wants examined - chapter forty-two from "The Three Musketeers", apparently in Dumas' own handwriting. Balkan refers Corso to a graphologist, based in Paris, by the name of Achille Replinger - both a friend and an expert on nineteenth-century French writers.

Corso is hoping to authenticate the manuscript on behalf of a friend called Flavio La Ponte - who had, allegedley, bought the manuscript from a publisher called Enrique Taillefer. Slightly awkwardly, Taillefer had died the previous week in an apparent suicide. (The unfortunate Taillefer had also failed to leave a note). Corso and LaPonte have known each other for many years and have quite a bit in common - Corso, for his part, nearly seems fond of LaPonte. Together, the pair have founded (and remain the only two members of) the Brotherhood of Nantucket Harpooneers - in honour of their shared enthusiasm for "Moby Dick".

Corso is also working on an investigation for Varo Borja - Spain's leading bookdealer and a man who can always afford the asking price. Borja is particularly interested in a book called "The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows", written in the seventeenth century by a man called Astride Torchia. Since the book was regarded as a dummies guide for summoning the Devil, this naturally got Torchia in trouble with the Inquisition. (Everything they could find written by Torchia was burned - a similar fate was endured by the author not long afterwards). While one copy of the Nine Doors did apparently survive, there are now believed to be three copies - one in Borja's collection, another in Portugal and the third in Paris. Borja wants Corso to discover which of the three copies is authentic. Since Corso will be travelling to Paris at Borja's expense anyhow, he decides to look up Replinger while there. In time, Corso comes to believe the two investigations are somehow linked. Furthermore, it appears he is being stalked by flesh-and-blood versions of Rochefort and Milady - two characters who worked for Richlieu in "The Three Musketeers". Naturally, that leaves the implication there's also a real-life Richlieu somewhere calling the shots...

This is a hugely enjoyable book - it's one that just bounces along and it constantly had me smiling. It obviously owes a certain amount to "The Three Musketeers", and I picked up a few things about that Dumas I didn't know before. (Dumas isn't the only one to have an influence - there's a couple of nods in the direction of Umberto Eco and Sherlock Holmes). Absolutely recommended - I'll certainly be reading more by Arturo Perez Reverte.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but too much Satanism., 11 Jun 2000
By A Customer
The Dumas Club is an original mystery thriller set in the world of antiquarian books. In which antiquarian book hunter Lucas Corso investigates a possible Dumas manuscript and a satanic book. As he travels from Madrid to Portugal and then to Paris he finds himself pursued by villains from Dumas' classic novel. Unfortunately the combination of The Three Musketeers and devil worship doesn't work, while I enjoyed the chapters concerning the former, the sections about the later were not nearly as clever or tasteful. And the ending failed to bring the two themes together in a satisfactory way. Overall although the novel has many excellent characters, settings and storylines, it lacks the elegance of The Flanders Panel or The Seville Communion. It's well worth refreshing you knowledge of The Three Musketeers before reading this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thinking man's mystery noir combined with Sherlockian elan, 31 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Club Dumas (Hardcover)
This book is a true book lover's treat. An intelligent mystery noir set in both the drawing rooms of rich Spanish book collectors, and in their back alleys where some deals need to be consummated. Enter Corso, a reluctant Indiana Jones of the literary set, and erudite mercenary of the written word.
Corso is hired to verify the bona fides of a text attributed to Dumas, and becomes involved with the search for a Satanic manuscript. The manuscripts themselves are mysteries, as is the beautiful young girl who acts as his guardian (angel?)... well, at any rate, guardian. Then there's the buxom blonde and the dark stranger with the dueling scar, and the three musketeers, the friend who may or may not betray him, and all the dead book collectors, and; anyway, you get the picture.
As I said, this is an intelligently written book and is not written for mystery fans per se; it was written to raise the genre to the level of literature, and here it succeeds on many levels. One of my favorite parts is a rewrite of Moby Dick that begins "Call me Queequeeg" and refutes Ishmael's flowery view of whaling. This is a great book, but one I could only recommend to those with a love of literature as well as mystery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Esoteric thriller, 3 Sep 2011
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This review is from: THE Club Dumas (Paperback)
I bought `The Club Dumas' because it was the source for `The Ninth Gate'(1999) which I'd enjoyed.

The book's prologue mirrors that of the film but the book's first sentence ("My Name is Boris Balkan and I once translated `The Charterhouse of Parma'") signals the great divide from Polanski's effort. Those familiar with the film will immediately sense something's awry. In contrast the film's opening lines: ( `An impressive collection. You have some very rare editions here. Sure you want to sell them all?') points the audience in a very different direction. In fact, Polanski et alia ignore THE Red Herring of the novel and develop a far simpler product.

The reader who wants a snappy thriller may be disappointed because the book offers something more. It really settles down into three distinct esoteric areas and the reader's attention may become stretched by any or all of them. The first is the analysis and collection of rare books, the second is the work of Alexander Dumas and the third covers books dealing with the occult. I found the first two fascinating but the last caused me to skim through eight pages when Pérez-Reverte slips into `Dan Brown mode' and reproduces gibberish bordering on the insane. It has been described as `a beach book for intellectuals' but I wouldn't quite agree. The intellectual would be seeking collaboration for some of the books and ideas cited and, even with surfing the Internet, they aren't easy to track down. The author has weaved FACT very successfully into FICTION - and note which forms the basis. I found I'd learned a lot through this book - about rare books NOT how to summon up Satan! - but the ending bemused me. It's far cleverer and more intricate than the film, but should that be true of a thriller?

Overall, it's a good, stimulating read but one which will bring most rewards from study outside its covers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb., 21 Mar 2013
By 
M. Crossman (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dumas Club (Paperback)
Not much point in adding any description of the book as plenty of people on Amazon have done a fine job in doing so.
What I will add is that I have read the book on several occasions and each time it never fails to grab me.
Not wanting to be disparaging to another author but this book is what it would be like if Dan Brown could write.
An intriguing mix of mystery and horror with plenty of nods to the literary world to keep the most devoted bibliophile chuckling into his glass of bols.
Filmed with Johnny Depp as "The Ninth Gate", the film really does not do this book justice at all.
If you are only familiar with the celluloid version then please buy this book immediately.
Highly recommended.
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