You may be vaguely familiar with the story told in The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte because you saw the movie The Ninth Gate, starring the ever-fantastic Johnny Depp. And I know that it wasn't the plot of the movie that made you choose it at the video store! Of course, if this is all you know about this book, then you have been sadly cheated. The movie (no offense to Johnny) was terrible and it took a twisted and intelligent plot and made it into a trite satanic piece of crap. If you have not read this book but have seen the movie, please go immediately, have that part of your memory removed permanently and then go buy this book! Then if you accidentally choose to watch the movie again, you will appreciate the book even more.
I came across this book many years ago on one of those "new to paperback" tables at Barnes and Noble. This is actually where I have found a few of my favorite books. The Club Dumas is the story of Lucas Corso, a mercenary middleman in the rare and antique books world. He is asked by a friend to verify the authenticity of a handwritten proof of a chapter from Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. At the same time he is trying to prove whether another book, The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows, is a forgery or if either of the other two copies in existence are forgeries. As Corso travels and contacts various people to complete his research, his life and maybe even his sanity are in danger.
If you are tentative about this book because of the satanic plot elements, let me reassure you. The discussions of the devil and his motives in this book aren't much more descriptive that what I learned as a teenager in sunday school. There is one brief scene with a "satanic ritual" but it's presented in a such a way as to seem almost ridiculous. The majority of the book is a cat and mouse chase between Corso and those trying to thwart his efforts. The New York Daily News endorsement on the cover says "Think of The Club Dumas as a beach book for intellectuals." I would say that it's less for intellectuals than lovers of books, especially the history of books. So, if you haven't read this book, give it a try. I've read it three or four times now and each time I find new things to enjoy about it.
On to another book,
Buy The Club Dumas on Amazon or find it at your local library.