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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.