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The Death of an Ardent Bibliophile

The Death of an Ardent Bibliophile

by Bartholomew Gill

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Literary lore and procedural machinations weave through the third adventure of Dublin police superintendent Peter McGarr, last seen in Death on a Cold, Wild River. The bibliophile in question was noted Swiftian scholar Brian Herrick, the custodian of Swift's Marsh Library, famed for its rare editions, which Herrick had recreated in part in his own home. As much an enigma as Swift, Herrick had also shelved in his library video cassettes of orgies starring himself and featuring, among others, a memorable one-eyed tart. But in his final scene, Herrick is filmed alone, falling victim to a nasty poison. McGarr learns that Herrick, reputedly wealthy, may have squandered his estate and become the subject of blackmail. Focusing less than in the previous books on the dichotomies of modern Ireland, Gill paints a broad, bold cast, including McGarr's wife, Noreen, an art gallery owner, and a handsome threesome involved in an intense romantic triangle-two of Peter's coppers, one tall and statuesque, one short and pugilistic, and a dashing young businessman. This academic mystery, however, may hold the most appeal for readers who know and love their Swift. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Dubliner Peter McGarr investigates the bizarre death of the keeper of Marsh's Library, a repository for rare books. Unlike most librarians, Brian Herrick enjoyed a family fortune, a fine house, and a private book collection of his own. He also emulated Jonathan Swift and died while videotaping a pornographic version of Swiftian poetry. This subject, along with the possible youth of a film partner, quickly relegates Herrick to the animal side of human nature in police eyes. Avid descriptions, dry witticisms, and fascinating plot carry this along quite nicely. From the author of Death of a Cold, Wild River (LJ 9/1/93).
Emily Melton
This darkly clever, erotic, macabre tale of murder won't appeal to all readers, but those who appreciate the unusual will find it a rare treat. Set in Dublin, the story has copper Peter McGarr investigating the bizarre death of bibliophile Brian Herrick, the overseer of Dublin's prestigious collection of Jonathan Swift's works. A wealthy, sex-obsessed eccentric, Herrick enjoyed bacchanalian-like orgies in the privacy of his home. Apparently a victim of his own excesses, Herrick was found dead in a pool of vomit and excrement in his richly elegant library. A videotape found nearby has recorded not only Herrick's violent and horrifying death, but also a bizarre sex play seemingly based on Swift's poems and starring a cast of some of the strangest, most unsavory characters McGarr and his two colleagues, Ruth Bresnahan and Hugh Ward, have ever encountered. As the trio tries to sort through the puzzling evidence, they uncover a story that sounds as if it's come straight from the pages of Swift's most sardonic tale. A challenging, witty, intelligently written story, albeit one with somewhat limited appeal.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Peter McGarr Series , #11
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Bartholomew Gill authored 15 Peter McGarr mysteries, among them The Death of an Irish Lover, The Death of an Irish Tinker, and the Edgar Award nominee The Death of a Joyce Scholar. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Gill wrote as Mark McGarrity for the Star-Ledger. He died in 2002.

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