Start with a South Seas island . . . Samoa. Add a large estate in the interior owned by a Scottish gentleman and his family. Throw in some colorful natives and some Germans lurking in the background looking to cause trouble. For the finishing touch include three visitors to the island up to no good. Thus, you have the plot for a classic 1940’s movie. As I read this book I kept seeing the scenes in black and white.
Before the 20th century poor or non-existent copyright laws allowed books to be published without the author’s permission. Publishers got rich and authors suffered while the people called bookaneers searched for manuscripts to steal. A new international treaty will soon be signed to protect authors and thus end the careers of the bookaneers. In one last quest, three men, Pen Davenport, his friend, Fergins, and their arch rival, Belial, race to Samoa in order to steal the novel which the dying Robert Louis Stevenson is struggling to write.
Matthew Pearl is always a pleasure to read, with his attention to historical detail, his well-crafted plots, and his amazing characters. To say that I greatly enjoyed this book is an understatement. It is highly recommended and is suitable for older teens.
eGalley review Publication date 04.28.15
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