The passion of book collectors might be termed “a gentle madness” by some, but the affliction is, in truth, not always so gentle. This is the case with Felix de Lisle, a wealthy man rumored to have dealings with the mob, whose collection of espionage writer Simon Verity exhibits a dangerous obsession. When de Lisle discovers that there might have been a variant dust jacket, destroyed by the publisher, for his favorite of Verity’s titles, he becomes fixated on owning a copy. And he hires book scout Benny Morgan to track it down.
On the hunt for information, Benny calls upon an array of rare book dealers and collectors — and the bag of cash supplied by de Lisle helps find answers from sources who might be reluctant to share their knowledge. But the search soon takes a dark turn, uncovering a dark trail of betrayal, desire, and destruction that leads to the missing jacket art — and to a secret too terrible to be ignored. Ultimately, Benny will have to confront a deadly choice: loyalty to de Lisle, or to his own personal moral code.
Martin Edwards is the author of numerous mystery novels and short stories, including those in the Lake District Mysteries and Rachel Savernake Golden Age Mysteries series. His nonfiction work has won Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, and he was the recipient of the 2020 Diamond Dagger award for lifetime achievement. A renowned expert in the genre, Edwards is the series consultant for the British Library’s Crime Classics series, the archivist for the Crime Writers Association and the Detection Club, and the editor of 37 anthologies. He lives in Lymm.