The Club Dumas is an engaging and enjoyable mystery novel. It is quite a work of literary fiction. At stages, it left me confused but then I learnt to keep my focus as this was a novel that made you think quite a lot as a lot happens throughout the novel.
The story begins with a translator named Boris Balkan, who hires a professional “book-hunter”, Lucas Corso, to authenticate a handwritten manuscript chapter of Alexander Dumas’s Three Musketeers and The Book of The Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows, which happened to be one of three surviving copies of an infamous black magic text. It was to believe that the book was a guide into summoning the devil.
Lucas then travels to Portugal and then to Paris with his copy of The Nine Doors to compare it to the other two of the copies. After he sees and inspects the other two copies, the owners of those copies both ends up dead and Lucas starts to wonder what he got himself into and how to get himself out in one piece. He also realizes that he is being followed around Europe. He also notices that the same events are happening to him to the storyline of The Three Musketeers. He starts to wonder who the author of his own story is, what they have planned for him and whether he can protect his own sanity as real and fictional worlds start to combine.
I liked the fascinating insights into the secrets of book restoration and forgery sought by the lead character, Lucas Corso. I do think the ending was a bit abrupt as it does not resolve the element of the black magic convincingly.
I have to say that this book has many twists and left me as a reader wondering almost till the very end as to how the storyline and the novel’s title all fit together. Pérez-Reverte has written this novel in such a way that it may just range outside of the general reader of books to read.
The book is set in a world of antiquarian booksellers echoing his previous work, The Flanders Panel. The story follows the adventure of a book dealer, Lucas Corso, who is hired to authenticate a rare manuscript. The book is full of details that range from the working habits of Alexander Dumas to how one might go about forging a 17th century text, as well as insight to demonology and the nature of social constructionism.