Bibliomysteries, edited by Otto Penzler, is a welcome anthology for bibliophiles. It features 15 tales with an impressive range—international thriller, whodunit, hardboiled, and contemporary Western—with a single unifying theme: books and the people who love them. The quality of the tales is unusually high and it is, at least as of this writing, the best anthology I’ve read all year.
“The Book of Ghosts,” by Reed Farrel Coleman, is a new twist on an old story. Jacob Weisen, a survivor of Birkenau, gained fame for his retelling of a fellow prisoner’s lost novel The Book of Ghosts, a book Weisen is certain was destroyed during the war. But when it reappears decades later, it brings with it a grim dilemma.
Laura Lippmann’s “The Book Thing” is a sentimental tale with an uncommon bibliophile. Tess Monaghan is a private detective with an admiration for one of Baltimore’s final surviving children’s bookstores. When Tess learns books are disappearing from the store, she decides to find the thief. The answer and the perpetrator are surprising, and if you own more books than you can read (like I do), it’s also thought provoking.
My favorite story in the anthology is David Bell’s poignant “Rides a Stranger.” It weaves a collectable pulp Western paperback, a murder, and a son’s journey to understand his deceased father into a thought-provoking and relevant tale.