A Slepyng Hound to Wake: a novel
by Vincent McCaffrey
Review by Mel Jacob
Small Beer Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781931520263
Date: 01 July 2011 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Vincent McCaffrey offers a dark and slow paced literary novel featuring a middle-aged man trying to save his friends, solve the mysteries surrounding him, and survive. When book hound Henry Sullivan's sometime friend and book dealer Eddy Perry turns up dead, it first appears a simple robbery gone wrong. The police have no suspects. Then, Barbara, Henry's former boss and the owner of Alcott & Poe, a literary bookstore struggling for survival, asks Henry to help her partner, Sharon Greene, pursue a case of literary theft against bestselling author George Duggan.
Henry finds Sharon's accusations against Duggan iffy. He agrees the novel written by Sharon's housemate, the deceased Jim Frankowski, is a better novel, but doesn't accept that Duggan stole the idea. He tells both women that it isn't a case of plagiarism and any remuneration will depend how much of a nuisance Duggan considers the accusation.
A magnet for the women in his life, Henry's current girlfriend Della, his landlady Mrs. Murphy, Barbara, and Sharon all vie for his attention. He prefers to avoid relationships and stick with a simple life. He had quit working for Barbara to avoid marriage and works to fend off the persistent Della.
He has a talent for noticing things and storing miscellaneous observations away. This mosaic of information enables him so solve the mysteries he investigates although it takes time and may not save lives.
Set in Boston against the changing background of bookselling and publishing, the novel follows Henry as he and his best friend Albert rescue books from old homes and garbage bins, estate sales, and auctions for resale on the internet. Most of Henry's book stock comes from these activities. He has a keen nose for what interests the dealers to whom he sells. He sees no future in brick and mortar stores.
Slow paced, the novel explores Henry's middle-life crisis and angst. Somehow he remains a survivor both in life and in business. He also saves at least one life and helps others find renewal.
McCaffrey makes good use of his Boston setting and doesn't wallow in gutter language or heavy sex so common in many modern mysteries. Slepyng Hound provides an easy, intelligent read. The first mystery, Hound, received glowing reviews.