Review: Left Turn at Paradise, a Rare Book Mystery, by Thomas Shawver

About the book Left Turn at Paradise Left Turn at Paradise

Publisher: Alibi (August 26, 2014)
Pages: 208

The author of The Dirty Book Murder returns to the surprisingly lethal world of rare books with a second enthralling novel featuring a most unlikely hero—antiquarian bookseller Michael Bevan.

Michael Bevan is barely scraping by with his used bookstore and rare book collection when he discovers a timeworn journal that may change everything. Dating back to 1768, the tattered diary appears to be a chronicle kept during the first of legendary seafarer Captain James Cook’s three epic voyages through the Pacific islands. If it’s as valuable as Mike thinks it is, its sale may just bring enough to keep his faltering used bookstore afloat for another year.

Then he meets a pair of London dealers with startling news: Adrian Hart and Penelope Wilkes claim to possess the journal of Cook’s second voyage. Is it possible a third diary exists? One which might detail Cook’s explosive final voyage—and his death at the hands of native Hawaiians? Together, all three would be the holy grail of Pacific exploration. But before Mike can act, the two journals are stolen.

Chasing them down will sweep Michael, Adrian, and Penelope across the globe—past a dead body or two—and into a very sinister slice of paradise. High in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, in a remote and secretive Maori compound, a secret rests in the hands in of a man daring enough to rewrite history . . . and desperate enough to kill.

Buy, read, and discuss Left Turn at Paradise

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About the author, Thomas Shawver

Thomas Shawver is a former marine officer, lawyer, and journalist with American City Business Journals. An avid rugby player and international traveler, Shawver owned Bloomsday Books, an antiquarian bookstore in Kansas City. He’s at work on the third Rare Book mystery.


My Thoughts

When I read the first Rare Book Mystery, The Dirty Book Murder, earlier this year, I stayed up all night because I was so gripped by the story. The sequel, Left Turn at Paradise is similarly compelling, to the point where rather than read it IN the bath, I actually SKIPPED my bath in order to stay with the story. If you knew how seriously I take baths, you would understand that this is high praise, indeed.

In fact, bookshop owner Michael Bevan is fast becoming one of my favorite fictional detectives. I love that he’s able to hold his own in a brawl, sing in an Irish pub, and speak intelligently about all sorts of subjects, to the point where you just know that he’s the kind of guy who knows that “Iraq” is pronounced “ee-rakh” and not “eye-rack.”

This book takes us further afield than the first. We travel with Mike first to San Francisco for a rare book convention, and then to New Zealand, when the actual mystery part of the plot really becomes active. There are familiar characters – former FBI agent/current lover Josie is one of them – and there are new characters as well, such as Pillow (no, really) who is a really interesting woman.

As a fan of all things ship-y and pirate-y, I loved that the books at the center of this plot involved Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages, and the recurring images of the ocean and water in general just added to atmosphere.

Thomas Shawver spins an awfully good tale, full of believable characters in heightened situations, and manages to give us mysteries that are edgier than true cozies, and cozier than true hard-boileds, and feel slightly old-fashioned while still being completely contemporary.

Goes well with Steak au poivre and a glass of Two Paddocks wine.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of stops, click HERE.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Review: Left Turn at Paradise, a Rare Book Mystery, by Thomas Shawver by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “Review: Left Turn at Paradise, a Rare Book Mystery, by Thomas Shawver

  1. Pingback: Thomas Shawver, author of Left Turn at Paradise, on tour August/September 2014 | TLC Book Tours

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