The Club Dumas

( 85 )


A provocative literary thriller that playfully pays tribute to classic tales of mystery and adventure

Lucas Corso is a book detective, a middle-aged mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, ...

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The Club Dumas

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A provocative literary thriller that playfully pays tribute to classic tales of mystery and adventure

Lucas Corso is a book detective, a middle-aged mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas's masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris on the killer's trail in this twisty intellectual romp through the book world.

When a well-known bibliophile is found hanged, Lucas Corso is brought in to authenticate a fragment of a manuscript purported to be "The Three Musketeers." He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and a swashbuckling cast that bears a suspicious resemblance to those in the famous work. Abridged. 5 CDs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"An intelligent and delightful novel." -THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"A cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice . . . Think of The Club Dumas as a beach read for intellectuals."-THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Chicago Tribune
Plenty of thrills...Perez-Reverte pulls it all together with elegance.
New York Newsday
A eerie, erudite mystery.
New York Daily News
A cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice...a beach book for intellectuals. -- New York Daily News
Kirkus Reviews
An intricate and very bookish mystery novel—set, in fact, in the rarefied world of book collecting and dealing—from the sophisticated Spanish author of The Flanders Panel (1994, not reviewed).

The story begins with the hiring of professional "book- hunter" Lucas Corso by Boris Balkan, a translator and collector who seeks authentication of a handwritten manuscript chapter of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers that has fortuitously, as they say, come into his possession. Traveling back and forth between Paris and Madrid, Corso matches wits with Liana Taillefer, whose husband's suicide was somehow connected with his ownership of the Delomelanicon, an illustrated medieval volume said to contain secret instructions for summoning the devil, and of which only two other copies are known to exist. Corso is soon involved in a byzantine international intrigue carried on by those who want, or have information about, the Dumas chapter and the infernal Delomelanicon, including: urbane and ruthless bookseller Varo Borja; an aged German baroness; a threatening man with a facial scar whom his quarry Corso bemusedly nicknames "Rochefort" (after Dumas); and a preternaturally self-possessed teenaged girl who says she's Irene Adler (this being the name of Sherlock Holmes's most infamous mystery woman). Pérez-Reverte plaits all these teasing strands together with imperturbable skill, leaving the reader wondering until almost the final pages about the significance of his seductive title, and the allegation that Alexandre Dumas's narrative genius was the result of his pact with Satan. A lot happens in this novel, despite its constant recourse to prearranged meetings and extended conversations, and its enormity of detail about the nuts and bolts of book manufacture, publishing, searching, and dealing.

Bibliophiles will love this witty and clever fabrication, though its very specialized content may place it just outside the range of the general reader.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156032834
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 166,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

ARTURO PEREZ-REVERTE is the author of many critically acclaimed novels, including The Club Dumas, The Flanders Panel, and the Captain Alatriste series. A retired war journalist, he lives in Madrid and is a member of the Royal Spanish Academy.
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Read an Excerpt


The reader must be prepared to witness the most sinister scenes.


My name is Boris Balkan and I once translated The Charterhouse of Parma. Apart from that, I've edited a few books on the nineteenth-century popular novel, my reviews and articles appear in supplements and journals throughout Europe, and I organize summer-school courses on contemporary writers. Nothing spectacular, I'm afraid. Particularly these days, when suicide disguises itself as homicide, novels are written by Roger Ackroyd's doctor, and far too many people insist on publishing two hundred pages on the fascinating emotions they experience when they look in the mirror.

But let's stick to the story.

I first met Lucas Corso when he came to see me; he was carrying "The Anjou Wine" under his arm. Corso was a mercenary of the book world, hunting down books for other people. That meant talking fast and getting his hands dirty. He needed good reflexes, patience, and a lot of luck-and a prodigious memory to recall the exact dusty corner of an old man's shop where a book now worth a fortune lay forgotten. His clientele was small and select: a couple of dozen book dealers in Milan, Paris, London, Barcelona, and Lausanne, the kind that sell through catalogues, make only safe investments, and never handle more than fifty or so titles at any one time. High-class dealers in early printed books, for whom thousands of dollars depend on whether something is parchment or vellum or three centimeters wider in the margin. Jackals on the scent of the Gutenberg Bible, antique-fair sharks, auction-room leeches, they would sell their grandmothers for a firstedition. But they receive their clients in rooms with leather sofas, views of the Duomo or Lake Constance, and they never get their hands-or their consciences-dirty. That's what men like Corso are for.

He took his canvas bag off his shoulder and put it on the floor by his scuffed oxfords. He stared at the framed portrait of Rafael Sabatini that stands on my desk next to the fountain pen I use for correcting articles and proofs. I was pleased, because most visitors paid Sabatini little attention, taking him for an aged relative. I waited for Corso's reaction. He was half smiling as he sat down-a youthful expression, like that of a cartoon rabbit in a dead-end street. The kind of look that wins over the audience straightaway. In time I found out he could also smile like a cruel, hungry wolf, and that he chose his smiles to suit the circumstances. But that was much later. Now he seemed trustworthy, so I decided to risk a password.

"He was born with the gift of laughter," I quoted, pointing at the portrait. and with a feeling that the world was mad . . . "

Corso nodded slowly and deliberately. I felt a friendly complicity with him, which, in spite of all that happened later, I still feel. From a hidden packet he brought out an unfiltered cigarette that was as crumpled as his old overcoat and corduroy trousers. He turned it over in his fingers, watching me through steel-rimmed glasses set crookedly on his nose under an untidy fringe of slightly graying hair. As if holding a hidden gun, he kept his other hand in one of his pockets, a pocket huge and deformed by books, catalogues, papers, and, as I also found out later, a hip flask full of Bols gin.

". . . and this was his entire inheritance." He completed the quotation effortlessly, then settled himself in the armchair and smiled again. "But to be honest, I prefer Captain Blood."

With a stern expression I lifted my fountain pen. "You're mistaken. Scaramouche is to Sabatini what The Three Musketeers is to Dumas." I bowed briefly to the portrait. "'He was born with the gift of laughter. . . .' In the entire history of the adventure serial no two opening lines can compare."

"That may be true," Corso conceded after a moment's reflection. Then he laid the manuscript on the table, in a protective folder with plastic pockets, one for each page. "It's a coincidence you should mention Dumas."

He pushed the folder toward me, turning it around so I could read its contents. The text was in French, written on one side of the page only. There were two types of paper, both discolored by age: one white, the other pale blue with light squares. The handwriting on each was different-on the white pages it was smaller and more spiky. The handwriting of the blue paper, in black ink, also appeared on the white pages but as annotations only. There were fifteen pages in all, eleven of them blue.

"Interesting." I looked up at Corso. He was watching me, his calm gaze moving from the folder to me, then back again. "Where did you find it?"

He scratched an eyebrow, no doubt calculating whether he needed to provide such details in exchange for the information he wanted. The result was a third facial expression, this time an innocent rabbit. Corso was a professional.

"Around. Through a client of a client."

"I see."

He paused briefly, cautious. Caution is a sign of prudence and reserve, but also of shrewdness. And we both knew it.

"Of course," he added, "I'll give you names if you request them."

I answered that it wouldn't be necessary, which seemed to reassure him. He adjusted his glasses before asking my opinion of the manuscript. Not answering immediately, I turned to the first page. The title was written in capital letters, in thicker strokes: LE VIN D'ANJOU.

I read aloud the first few lines: "Apr?s de nouvelles presque d?sesp?r?es du roi, le bruit de sa convalescence commen?ait ? se r?pandre dans le camp. . . ." I couldn't help smiling.

Corso indicated his approval, inviting me to comment.

"Without the slightest doubt," I said, "this is by Alexandre Dumas p?re. 'The Anjou Wine': chapter forty-something, I seem to remember, of The Three Musketeers."

"Forty-two," confirmed Corso. "Chapter forty-two."

"Is it authentic? Dumas's original manuscript?"

"That's why I'm here. I want you to tell me."

I shrugged slightly, reluctant to assume such a responsibility.

"Why me?"

It was a stupid question, the kind that only serves to gain time. It must have seemed like false modesty, because he suppressed a look of impatience.

"You're an expert," he retorted, somewhat dryly. "As well as being Spain's most influential literary critic, you know all there is to know about the nineteenth-century popular novel."

"You're forgetting Stendhal."

"Not at all. I read your translation of The Charterhouse of Parma"

"Indeed. I am honored."

"Don't be. I preferred Consuelo Berges's version."

We both smiled. I continued to find him likable, and I was beginning to form an idea of his style.

"Do you know any of my books?" I asked.

"Some. Lupin, Raffles, Rocambole, Holmes, for instance. And your studies of Valle-Inclan, Baroja, and Galdos. Also Dumas: the Shadow of a Giant. And your essay on The Count of Monte Cristo."

"Have you read all those?"

"No. I work with books, but that doesn't mean I have to read them."

He was lying. Or at least exaggerating. The man was conscientious: before coming to see me, he'd looked at everything about me he could lay his hands on. He was one of those compulsive readers who have devoured anything in print from a most tender age-although it was highly unlikely that Corso's childhood ever merited the term "tender."

"I understand," I answered, just to say something.

He frowned for a moment, wondering whether he'd forgotten anything. He took off his glasses, breathed on the lenses, and set about cleaning them with a very crumpled handkerchief, which he pulled from one of the bottomless pockets of his coat. However fragile the oversized coat made him appear, with his rodentlike incisors and calm expression Corso was as solid as a concrete block. His features were sharp and precise, full of angles. They framed alert eyes always ready to express an innocence dangerous for anyone who was taken in by it. At times, particularly when still, he seemed slower and clumsier than he really was. He looked vulnerable and defenseless: barmen gave him an extra drink on the house, men offered him cigarettes, and women wanted to adopt him on the spot. Later, when you realized what had happened, it was too late to catch him. He was running off in the distance, having scored another victory.

Corso gestured with his glasses at the manuscript. "To return to Dumas. Surely a man who's written five hundred pages about him ought to sense something familiar when faced with one of his original manuscripts."

With the reverence of a priest handling holy vestments I put a hand on the pages protected by plastic.

"I fear I'm going to disappoint you, but I don't sense anything."

We both laughed, Corso in a peculiar way, almost under his breath, like someone who is not sure whether he and his companion are laughing at the same thing. An oblique, distant laugh, with a hint of insolence, the kind of laugh that lingers in the air after it stops. Even after its owner has been gone for a while.

"Let's take this a step at a time," I went on. "Does the manuscript belong to you?"

"I've already told you that it doesn't. A client of mine has just acquired it, and he finds it strange that no one should have heard of this complete, original chapter of The Three Musketeers until now. . . . He wants it authenticated by an expert, so that's what I'm working on."

"I'm surprised at your dealing with such a minor matter." This was true. I'd heard of Corso before this meeting. "I mean, after all, nowadays Dumas. . ."

I let the sentence hang and smiled with the appropriate expression of bitter complicity. But Corso didn't take up my invitation and stayed on the defensive. "The client's a friend of mine," he said evenly. "It's a personal favor."

"I see, but I'm not sure that I can be of any help to you. I have seen some of the original manuscripts, and this one could be authentic. However, certifying it is another matter. For that you'd need a good graphologist . . . I know an excellent one in Paris, Achille Replinger. He owns a shop that specializes in autographs and historical documents, near Saint Germain des Pr?s. He's an expert on nineteenth-century French writers, a charming man and a good friend of mine." I pointed to one of the frames on the wall. "He sold me that Balzac letter many years ago. For a very high price."

I took out my datebook and copied the address for Corso on a card. He put the card in an old worn wallet full of notes and papers. Then he brought out a notepad and pencil from one of his coat pockets. The pencil had a chewed eraser at one end, like a schoolboy's pencil.

"Could I ask you a few questions?" he said.

"Yes, of course."

"Did you know of any complete handwritten chapter of The Three Musketeers?"

I shook my head and replaced the cap on my Mont Blanc.

"No. The novel came out in installments in Le Si?cle between March and July 1844 . . . Once the text was typeset by a compositor, the original manuscript was discarded. A few fragments remained, however. You can see them in an appendix to the 1968 Garnier edition."

"Four months isn't very long." Corso chewed the end of his pencil thoughtfully. "Dumas wrote quickly."

"They all did in those days. Stendhal wrote The Charterhouse of Parma in seven weeks. And in any case Dumas used collaborators, ghostwriters. The one for The Three Musketeers was called Auguste Maquet. They worked together on the sequel, Twenty Years After, and on The Vicomte de Bragelonne, which completes the cycle. And on The Count of Monte Cristo and a few other novels. You have read those, I suppose."

"Of course. Everybody has."

"Everybody in the old days, you mean." I leafed respectfully through the manuscript. "The times are long gone when Dumas's name increased print runs and made publishers rich. Almost all his novels came out in installments that ended with 'to be continued. . . .' The readers would be on tenterhooks until the next episode. But of course you know all that."

"Don't worry. Go on."

"What more can I tell you? In the classic serial, the recipe for success is simple: the hero and heroine have qualities or features that make the reader identify with them. If that happens nowadays in TV soaps, imagine the effect in those days, when there was no television or radio, on a middle class hungry for surprise and entertainment, and undiscriminating when it came to formal quality or taste. . . . Dumas was a genius, and be understood this. Like an alchemist in his laboratory, he added a dash of this, a dash of that, and with his talent combined it all to create a drug that had many addicts." I tapped my chest, not without pride. "That has them still."

Corso was taking notes. Precise, unscrupulous, and deadly as a black mamba was how one of his acquaintances described him later when Corso's name came up in conversation. He had a singular way of facing people, peering through his crooked glasses and slowly nodding in agreement, with a reasonable, well-meaning, but doubtful expression, like a whore tolerantly listening to a romantic sonnet. As if he was giving you a chance to correct yourself before it was too late.

After a moment he stopped and looked up. "But your work doesn't only deal with the popular novel. You're a well-known literary critic of other, more. . ." He hesitated, searching for a word. "More serious works. Dumas himself described his novels as easy literature. Sounds rather patronizing toward his readers."

This device was typical of him. It was one of his trademarks, like Rocambole's leaving a playing card instead of a calling card. Corso would say something casually, as if he himself had no opinion on the matter, slyly goading you to react. If you put forward arguments and justifications when you are annoyed, you give out more information to your opponent. I was no fool and knew what Corso was doing, but even so, or maybe because of it, I felt irritated.

"Don't talk in clich?s," I said. "The serial genre produced a lot of disposable stuff, but Dumas was way above all that. In literature, time is like a shipwreck in which God looks after His own. I challenge you to name any fictional heroes who have survived in as good health as d'Artagnan and his friends. Sherlock Holmes is a possible exception. Yes, The Three Musketeers was a swashbuckling novel full of melodrama and all the sins of the genre. But it's also a distinguished example of the serial, and of a standard well above the norm. A tale of friendship and adventure that has stayed fresh even though tastes have changed and there is an now an idiotic tendency to despise action in novels. It would seem that since Joyce we have had to make do with Molly Bloom and give up Nausicaa on the beach after the shipwreck. . . . Have you read my essay 'Friday, or the Ship's Compass'? Give me Homer's Ulysses any day."
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Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading and discussion of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel, The Club Dumas. We hope they will enrich your understanding of this dazzling intellectual thriller.

1. "My name is Boris Balkan, and I once translated The Charterhouse of Parma. Apart from that, I've edited a few books on the nineteenth century popular novel, my reviews and articles appear in supplements and journals throughout Europe, and I organize summer school courses on contemporary writers" [p. 5]. What is unusual about the way Balkan introduces himself? Does his description of himself reflect his actions in the novel?

2. Corso is frequently described as resembling a wolf or a rabbit. Is either description an accurate depiction of his personality? Does Corso's character undergo a transformation by the end of the novel? And if so, what causes it?

3. Is Balkan a reliable narrator? How do you account for his detailed knowledge of Corso's activities? Why did Arturo Pérez-Reverte choose to use Balkan as a narrator? Is Corso also a narrator of the story? Who is in control of the narrative?

4. When Corso visits Varo Borja at the beginning of the novel he hears a "jarring sound, warning him. . . . He was no longer sure he wanted the job" [p. 51]. Why does Corso take the job despite his reservations? How do his feelings about books differ from Varo Borja's or Boris Balkan's?

5. Corso immediately notices Liana Taillefer's resemblance to Kim Novak, the actress who portrayed a beautiful witch in the 1958 film Bell, Book, and Candle. Does Corso use a literary and cinematiclens to view the other women he encounters in the book? How does he see Irene Adler?

6. What do the rooms in which Liana Taillefer, Boris Balkan, Corso, Varo Borja, and Victor Fargas live say about each of them? Are the rooms in any way deceptive? With what settings do you associate Irene Adler? What does the home address she gives say about her?

7. Balkan is very opinionated when it comes to the kind of writing he deems worthwhile [see pages 5, 98, 313, and 322]. Do you think Balkan would consider The Club Dumas a worthwhile piece of literature? Why?

8. The Club Dumas does not establish a precise time period. What era do you imagine The Club Dumas to take place? Do certain characters seem to exist in their own historical periods? If so, how does this effect the way characters construct their identities and how they perceive one another?

9. What are the sources of evil in the novel? Is Pérez-Reverte's interest in the presence of evil in modern history conveyed in his depiction of Varo Borja's desire to raise the devil through magic? Is Borja naive in believing that summoning the devil requires secret knowledge?

10. To what extent do the engravings in The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness illustrate Corso's quest for the truth about the two books he is trying to authenticate? What do you think engraving number VII, of a king and a servant playing chess, might represent in terms of Corso's adventure? And how does engraving number IX, of a woman riding a seven-headed dragon, illuminate Corso's discoveries?

11. Who is Irene Adler? Do you accept her explanation of her identity? How does the identity she constructs affect your understanding of the opposition of God and the devil in the novel?

12. Balkan tells Corso that "games are the only universally serious activity" [p.314]. How does Balkan's attitude to "the game" compare with that of Corso, Liana Taillefer, and Irene Adler? Does anyone win the game? Has Corso's attitude to the game changed by the end of the book?

13. Boris Balkan argues that he never led Corso to believe that there was a connection between "The Anjou Wine" and The Nine Doors: "It was you who filled in the blanks on your own, as if what happened were a novel based on trickery, with Lucas Corso the reader too clever for his own good. Nobody ever told you that things were actually as you thought. No, the responsibility is entirely yours, my friend. The real villain of the piece is your excessive intertextual reading and linking of literary references" [p. 334]. Is Balkan right? To what extent are Balkan and Corso responsible for the violence that occurs in the story?

14. Is the Club Dumas justified in its mission to protect the reputation of Alexandre Dumas by withholding evidence about his collaboration with his assistant Auguste Moquet? Why does Balkan care so much about Dumas's reputation? Does Balkan's attitude toward Dumas influence your opinion of Balkan?

15. Corso and Balkan argue about whether children and young people raised watching television have the "spiritual heritage" they themselves received from books and old movies [p. 325]. Could The Club Dumas have been written about television devotees? How would the characters and plot differ?

16. Corso recalls Nikon telling him, "Films are for everyone, collective, generous. . . . They're even better on TV: two can watch and comment. But your books are selfish. Solitary. . . . A person who is interested in books doesn't need other people and that frightens me" [p. 210]. Is Corso a frightening person because of his obsession with books? What about the other characters who share a passion for books? Is it significant that Irene Adler reads cheap paperbacks [p. 138]? Why doesn't Corso want to join the Club Dumas party?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 85 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 86 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    Book great. Nook version awful.

    Wonderful book. The Nook version, however, is an insult to the reader and the author. It appears to have been optically scanned, with only cursory later editing. The illustrations were scanned in a size too large to fit on the b/w Nook, so one only sees a portion of the woodcuts and diagrams, some of them important to the story. For that alone, go to the hardcopy, which I assume lacks these problems. In the Nook text, periods, commas, and other punctuation are often missing for several sentences at a time, although on occasion, symbols appear for no reason. I am halfway though the book, and at least a couple sentences have been cut in half mid-line. "Paris" appears as "Pans", "Toledo" is "Toiedo", MC Escher is "Fischer", 1 (one) and I (cap i) are frequently misused (1789 is "I 789"), "grain" is "gram", "of" is "ot", "mania" is "mama", and so on. These are only the errors that I as a cold reader noticed. The errors are not constant --- whole sections pass without obvious fault --- but any problems with editing are worse in a story about books and those who obsess about them. The publishers, HMH, should be ashamed, and the author should be furious.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    The Club Dumas

    THe Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte was a fantastic book. Arturo goes beyond just the characters and plot of this book, he explains some of the culture during the 19th century. There is also some satanic cults thrown into this book. Most of the story is revolved around book collecting and literature. It makes referances to The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Arturo makes you feel like you want to know more about Alexandre Dumas. Lucas Corso, a mercenary book-dealer and master manipulator who specializes in acquiring rare and valuable editions for anonymous buyers and other book dealers. Lucas corso and his friend La Ponte must find an answer to the mysteries they are given. This book was a great read, I would highly recomend this book to people who like offbeat mysteries, classic literature and classic detective stories, this is the book for you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Good story, DISGRACEFUL digital edition

    Avoid this edition! A totally unacceptable, cheap-ass attempt at selling an OCRed text without any correction/proofreading applied it seems. Contains hundreds if not thousands of annoying mistakes, lost punctuation, etc. Disgraceful!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun and Smart

    There are a lot of pretenders these days; books that try for the whole "historical/literary murder-mystery conspiracy" thing but the Club Dumas is awesome and is original.

    There's a lot of talk about 19th century literature in this book, which at first may seem daunting to a new reader unfamiliar with the era, but it in no way hinders the reading of this book or your ability to enjoy it. The plot is an homage to the original Gothic novels and their feel and the book is exciting and interesting and educational all at the same time.

    It's a fantastic combination of history, the devil, the Three Musketeers, classic literature and the classic detective novel. If you like any of these topics you need to read this book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Treasures in leather

    A mystery with interesting twists and turns is a fairly rare treat. Those that can teach the reader a lot about a subject can sometimes be even rarer. The Club Dumas had me running to the encyclopedia to check facts about the life of Alexandre Dumas. Even more fascinating is the world of rare book collecting. The information on both subjects certainly makes it seem as if the author did his research.

    Lucas Corso, the book dealer whose adventures are told here, is an expert not only on rare books, but also on literature. Following him from city to city, collector to collector takes the reader into worlds most are unfamiliar with. In the beginning it is difficult to sympathize with him, but it is impossible not to admire his knowledge of his trade.

    We might envy the ability of the collectors to pay the prices these treasures demand, but it's impossible to envy the passion gone to madness. Treasures too often bring out the worst in people.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    A great book poorly translated

    I am in love with this novel.... How disappointed was I to read the English translation and to see how Soto dried it out completely? A great read... I'd advise however to read it in the original, or another translation than Soto's.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    great book

    highly recommended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    Highly Recommended then see the Ninth Gate, the movie

    My introduction to Perez-Reverte was courtesy of Johnny Depp who starred in a movie called "The Ninth Gate" which was so fascinating. The credits listed The Club Damas for the adaptation and I had to read the book. I loved the book even more than the movie and so I became an instant fan of Arturo P-R. The translations are exellent and stay true to the original books in Spanish. His excellent use of history even set me back to the author DUMAS and his books. Again this a great book to start your collection. The illustrations are a big part of the movie and the book. Enjoy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A mystery novel for book lovers!

    Intimate knowledge of The Three Musketeers is a major prerequisite before you can enjoy this book. It's referenced all over the place, along with mentions of Moby Dick and other swashbuckling stories of the time. If you are familiar with such things I don't see how you could help but love this modern mystery.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    The Club Dumas

    Book Review

    The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte was absolutely festinating. Perez shows the culture, the intelligence, and some satanic views through out his novel. The story begins with a very unseen suicide, one that did not really make sense. The man was a cookbook author named Enrique Taillefer, but as we find out he has a 2nd side to him. He is also a Dumas enthusiast who is looking for writings of the said author. The reader is introduced to the main character in the story "Lucas Corso" who is a book dealer. A dealer who knows what he is talking about as well, he is one who is quite persuasive and always gets what he wants. Lucas is hired to locate the writings of Alexandre Dumas a very flourishing writer, but in his attempts to locate these writings he stumbles upon two very important writings in "De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis" which is known as The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows. But as Lucas did not know is that these pieces of work are very important to a very interesting group of people including devil worshippers, obsessed bibliophiles and a hypnotically enticing femme fatale. Knowing that these demonic worshipers want these writing, he like many others would want to know why? So in order to figure out more of what is going on he travels to Madrid Spain to visit taillefers wife. Who is very kind yet mysterious almost as if she had something to hide. Corso suspects that she has been having affairs with other men before the suicide of her husband. and as reverte writes of the conversation there is a very suspicious man outside driving a jaguar with a scar on his face. but that was not the only look on his face he had a look of a killer one that corso believes to be a killer. so he leaves the house. But as he leaves the house he is stopped by a man who has a certain interest in pieces of the De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis. But Corso being certain that these pieces mean something more than normal he avoids him believing that these pages are cult related. These pages lead corso all over Europe searching for answers which leads to a well written ending that the reader would never see coming. Me being the reader of this story really enjoyed it because of the fact that there are not any limits when looking for answers and corso proves that he will find the reason, and it takes him all the way around the world. He meets many strange people during his travels as well as finding strange stories behind them. I would recommend this book to any reader which is into a well written story but is not also afraid to think a little bit during the process.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Club Dumas

    There are a few thematic elements in this book that a reader will get in heavy doses. The first is the hobby of book collecting and bibliophiles. Much of this story's character's motives revolve around book collecting and literature-love. The second element is Alexandre Dumas' works. If the title wasn't enough of a clue, there are frequent references to the Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers. The story does center around a Dumas manuscript after all. The final element is...wait for it...satanic cults. Somehow Satan got thrown into this mix and strangely enough, it works. The Club Dumas is a literary mystery of the highest caliber. With plenty of interesting characters, intrigue and twists to keep a reader going until the end. While the movie the Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp was based on this book, it is important to note that the similarities between the two are virtually non-existent. The book focuses far more on the secret Dumas manuscript and various murders. The devil-worship thing is a sort of non-descript undercurrent to the story. If you want a book with magic and demons this is NOT the book for you. If however, you are a book lover who enjoys a compelling mystery, I can recommend no book more whole-heartedly than this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    the club dumas

    if the plot of this book seems familar its because it was made into a movie by roman polanski called" the ninth gate" believe me as much fun as it is watching johnny depp in the film, the book is much deeper and goes in a different direction, yes there is the evil satanic book but there is much more including the sinister club dumas, suicide (or was it murder?) nymphomaniac widows, napoleonic wars, alcohol, demonic angels and madness. mr perez-reverte is a gifted writer and profound in his observation of human motivations. i've read other books of his and this is my favorite (the flanders panel is very good also) its worth the read if you like a well written, insightful, offbeat and mysterious story.

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  • Posted January 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    This was a random buy for me, but I found myself extremely happy for doing so. Kind of like a DaVinci Code type, this book gets you curious and takes you along for a great ride. It also makes you wanna read the 3 musketeers like and youll see!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2008

    hooked right from the start

    i don't get why people found the novel laborious to read. it was precisely how the new york daily news has described it: a beach read [for intellectuals, that is]. i practically breezed through the entire thing. maybe some people found the premise rather high-brow for their taste. or perhaps they were expecting a da vinci code rip-off. for the record, this was published in 1993, way before mr. brown crafted his infamous mystery novel which was published seven years later. there are some suspiciously similar attributes between the two but i am for mr. perez-reverte's work all the way. this novel attests to the saying: "don't believe everything you read [not to mention the negative reviews from other readers]."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2007


    Reading this book was a laborious mission. It is one of the very few books that I would not have completed if it were not schoolwork. Lucas Corso is an underground book detective that works for high paying clients. It is his job to find and obtain authentic original prints of famous books. Corso is a withdrawn, unfeeling man, who only cares about himself, and his work. The plot of the story begins when a man is found hanged by an apparent suicide Corso is hired to authenticate a book in his possession. It is apparent from the beginning that the copy is fake, and Corso must find the original work. As the story continues, it is made clear that the man¿s death was probably not a suicide, but a murder. The murderer seems to be the one who stole the original manuscript of the book. As the book goes on, the reader is introduced to countless characters, most of them pointless to the outcome of the story. There were some good characters that kept me engaged, but I was disappointed by their lack of dynamic by the end of the story. All in all, in was very disappointing. Though it sounds pretty exciting, the way that the story was drawn out made it seem like it took forever to get to any excitement. Then, even the exciting parts last too long to stay interested. I also think that the main character was too static. He was so familiar with the subject that was being presented in the story, that he came off as uninterested. It makes it very difficult to maintain interest, when none is being displayed in the story. I did learn some things about book printing from the story. Some of the things that characters could tall about the books from just looking at them were pretty astounding. They could tell what year it a book was printed in by the thickness of the paper. Back in the day, they used thick paper that lasted longer than the paper they use today. That¿s some pretty good useless knowledge. I would not recommend this book to most people. The few that I think would like it are people enjoy analyzing books to find clues, and people who can concentrate on small details, and fit them into a bigger picture with ease. I would not recommend it to most people however. I was very disappointed.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    What were the great reviews about?

    Did we all read the same book? I have to agree with almost everyone who gave this three stars or less (and disagree with all those quotes that appeared on the cover of the book). The book appeared to be interesting in the beginning, but lost meaning and development throughout. It was actually boring near the end and I don't remember how I stayed awake to finish it. The main character, Lucas Corso, was underdeveloped, lazily put together and (as a reader) I felt no connection to his character. The various book owners lacked feeling, emotion and (again) development. Lastly, the random girl (doesn't there always have to be a random girl) was a completely empty character - why was she even there? The plot was more of a guideline and didn't develop or climax as I thought it would. Based on the 'good' reviews, I thought this was worth reading, but now I realize that I should have left it alone. When all is said and done, I feel that I wasted my time and energy. I'm still puzzled - where did all the good reviews come from?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2007

    A Bit Disappointing

    I will admit that I saw the movie first. Having read the book, I can say that the movie is a gross distortion of its source material, even by Hollywood standards. That being said, I certainly preferred the subject matter of the movie to that of the book. If you saw the movie first as I did, you should know what you are getting into by picking up the book. The book 'The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows' is central to the movie but plays a secondary or even tertiary role in The Club Dumas, which instead focuses almost entirely on the events surrounding a manuscript hand-written by Alexandre Dumas himself. Nearly every page contains an allusion to The Three Musketeers and other works of his. Though the author is extremely talented and The Club Dumas is very well-written, the ending is so anti-climactic that it smacks of being written in a hurry to get the novel to press, and I felt so let down that I decided to give it three stars rather than four. Bottom line: this is a book far more to the tastes of fans of Dumas and other 19th century French writers that it is to those interested in the occult.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2006

    Bully Fun

    Lucas Corso, great-great-grandson of a Napoleonic grenadier, is a mercenary. He sells himself not to arms but to the service of book dealers and collectors. Embittered over the loss of the woman he loved, Corso is cynical, alcoholic and willing to go to any lengths to acquire the tomes coveted by his greedy clients. Corso has been hired by two clients. Flavio La Ponte, whom he considers a friend, has asked him to authenticate a manuscript fragment, allegedly a part of Alexandre Dumas¿ The Three Musketeers, which was acquired from a publisher/collector who has either committed suicide or been murdered. Corso is also seeking to authenticate another book for Varo Borja, Spain¿s leading book dealer. Borja has a copy of The Nine Doors, a 17th century manual for summoning the devil. He wants Corso to compare it with two other copies. Only one is believed to be genuine and the collector wants it ¿¿by whatever means, and without regard for expense.¿ This dual quest leads Corso from Spain to Portugal and then to Paris and a plot replete with consuming mystery, danger, a bevy of odd characters, puzzles and much talk about books and authors. Along the way he encounters a beautiful young woman named for a Conan Doyle heroine who appoints herself his guardian angel along with characters and events straight out of Dumas. Its bully fun and the completion of one Perez-Reverte only makes me hunger for another.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2005

    A book lover

    Such a long and capturing introduction leads into an almost vague and not fully convincing end nd solution of the main conflicts. Moreover, Corso as a character becomes an obsession for the reader, involved also into de paranoic-style reading proposed by Perez Reverte: probably the major authority in book-trade. Includes incredible allusions to foreign topics, related to not fully known literature and really basic unexpected archetypes of characters and plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2005

    Nine Doors to Kingdom Worth Opening

    Is there one copy of 'The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness' that survived the Inquisition or are there actually three? Does it contain the secret of summoning the Devil? Such are the questions faced by Lucas Corso, a mercenary of the book world, when he allows himself to become embroiled in the search for the rare tome of satanic lore. It is then that Corso finds that he is precariously surronded by secret society of antiquarians, the occult, nineteenth century popular literature, and historical and fictional characters. Even with the aid of the beautiful but mysterious Irene Adler survival still proves a treacherous venture. Interestingly, the Devil never makes an appearance, showing that evil is something which must be sought after on an individual quest; the 'Nine Doors' aren't portals for evil to enter the world but passageways through which it may be reached. The 1999 film 'The Ninth Gate' proves itself an excellent adaption of this book, expertly capturing the blend of mystery and detective story residing in the pages of 'The Club Dumas'.

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