Genre Genre Genre

Making Book

It's not often that you hear about booksellers turning into book writers.

Book Cover It is not uncommon for doctors (Ethan Canin, Daniel Mason), lawyers (Scott Thurow, John Grisham, Barry Reed), and television anchors (Jim Lehrer, Tom Brokaw) to venture into the novel writing game. One might think it would be a more common occurrence but as far as I know only bookseller Sonny Brewer, founder of Over the Transom Bookstore in Fairhope, Ala., has taken to penning fiction. Until now.

Vincent McCaffrey, owner of the legendary, late, and lamented (brick and mortar) Avenue Victor Hugo Bookstorenow offers Hound (Small Beer Press), the first in a projected series featuring Henry Sullivan, book hound and bookseller and, for now, reluctant amateur sleuth. Like any good (murder) mystery, this one is about much more than a crime and its solution. In this case, McCaffrey has distilled some of accumulated wisdom, whimsey, and wonder (with a small dash of dyspepsia) of 30 years of book-selling into an homage to the 60/60 world of books. Vince observes about his book:
There are deep rifts in the mystery genre which have given rise to very specific geologic features. There is the "cozy" and the "hard-boiled," of course, as well as the "noir," and the "police procedural"--all well established high ground for the writing practitioner and the faithful reader. There is even a sub-sub-genre for the "biblio-mystery" which a few critics have already used to label Hound. What is unfortunate to my mind is that there is relatively little cross reference. Outside of a few excellent and omnivorous blogs on the subject, few mystery readers play across the rifts.
And Hound's dust jacket (featuring a haunting photograph of a fog-bound Salt and Pepper bridge [which spans the Charles River in Boston] by David Fokos) offers up this tidbit by and about the author:
I have been paid by others to do lawn work, shovel snow, paint houses, and to be an office boy, warehouse grunt, dishwasher, and hotel night clerk. I have since chosen at various times to be a writer, editor, publisher, and bookseller--and managed to pay myself occasionally for that. But the one thing I am sure of is that I was very good at shoveling snow...
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