“Camino Island” by John Grisham, Doubleday, 296 pages,$28.95
Someone has pulled off an audacious robbery at Princeton University, stealing five original handwritten manuscripts of novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, priceless but insured for $25 million. Police are on the chase and two members out of four of the gang are apprehended.
The university is frantic to get the loot back at any cost and the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out the big bucks. Enter Mercer Mann, a frustrated young novelist who is having writer’s block. She is approached to go undercover to get the attention of a rare book dealer, Bruce Cable. Now, in typical Grisham fashion, this immediately gets complicated as we watch the trail expand for the manuscripts.
I am not sure that Fitzgerald’s manuscripts are worth the money and the effort, being a former used book dealer. His tattered second-hand books aren’t worth that much. But for Princeton, the loss is enormous and for the insurance company, the $25 million is a significant sum.
Cable had inherited some money and while deciding how to invest it, went to Florida with a girl. He found a bookstore and coffee house that came for sale, bought it and became a used and rare book dealer. He lost the girl and quickly learned some of the nefarious corners of the business and soon became quietly known for shady deals.
This is Grisham, so there are numerous shifts and strange twists in the tale and, of course, surprise endings. Already on the best seller list, this book is well worth a read.