Homicide In Hardcover

Homicide in Hardcover ” is a new bibliophile murder mystery by Kate Carlisle.  The blurb on the back reads, “Brooklyn Wainwright is a skilled surgeon.  Sure, her patients might smell like mold and have spines made of leather, but no ailing book is going to die on her watch.”  Kate Carlisle has done our profession a huge favor by communicating to the general public some of the exciting things conservators do.  Of course there are many little inaccuracies, but it is a little too easy and unfair to nitpick about things that only those on the inside of conservation know. The most important point is that this book serves to raise our public profile in a reasonably accurate way; it even discusses minimal intervention and the importance of written and photographic documentation.

Amazingly this book also includes a reference to Peachey knives!  The protagonist, Brooklyn, and her arch-enemy, Minka, are sneaking around Abraham’s (a master restorer) studio fighting over who gets these knives, after he was found dead in a pool of blood.

“I’m just looking,” I said, and picked up a polished wood box with the initials “AK” engraved on the top.

Abraham’s personalized set of Peachey knives.

“I have dibs on those, ” she (Minka) said.  “Get your ditry meat hooks off them.”

I shook my head at her.  “You’re a pathetic thief.”

“Those are mine.”

“No, these belong to Abraham.”

She lunged for the box and I whipped my hand away.

“You’re such a bitch!”

“That may be true,” I said.  “But these still don’t belong to you.”

“He can’t use them and I found them first.”

My eyes widened.  I couldn’t help it. Her lack of a moral compass never failed to shock me.  “That dosen’t mean they belong to you..”

“God, I hate you,” she said through clenched teeth.  She swept the rest of her booty to her chest and stomped out. Then she turned back and glared at me. “I hope you die.”

“Back atcha,” I yelled after her.” (pp. 75-76)

I plan to make a set of these knives, in a polished wood box with the initals “AK” engraved on top.  Would this be considered theoretical product placement?  A real knife is the basis for a fictional one,  then the fictional knife is transformed into a real knife? 

This isn’t the kind of book I usually read, but I enjoyed it.  The  descriptions of bookbinders at work were realistic and there are a number of laugh out loud scenes.  And this book seems to resonate with the public:  “I always assumed that book-binding and restoration would be a dull, dry subject but the historical facts and bits of trivia sprinkled throughout this book were so fascinating that instead of being bored I found myself wanting to know more.”  “Who’d have thought book restoration could be so exciting?”   “Who knew leather and vellum could be so captivating?”  


Thanks to Marieka Kaye (and her open minded literary taste!) for bringing this to my attention.

7 Replies to “Homicide In Hardcover”

  1. A new book to add to the list! I think it’ll be easy to overlook the inaccuracies when she has such a major detail so right! Peachey knives just might be worth fighting for 🙂

  2. Keep talking like that and I might have to give you a discount on your next order!

  3. That is FANTASTIC! You are now immortal. Congratulations!

    And, yes, I think you should immediately set up a side page with the “AK” knife set available to collectors, with a side story about how this fictional person came to you in real life to get the knives made, and how he told you key information about his pending murder. And maybe even make a little diorama of the scene and send it to Shannon’s diorama-rama fundraiser in Dallas!

  4. That is a great idea. I can tell the story about when Abraham Karastovsky, who lived in NYC before he moved west, came to visit and commissioned me to make the special boxed set of custom designed tools that I will reproduce in a limited edition of 12…

  5. Wow, Jeff! Little did I know that when I told you to read this book it would enter your psyche! You have a much kinder view of the book, but I have to admit I enjoyed reading it, laughing all the way! I think all book conservators should read it for fun, along with People of the Book, which paints another over-romanticized view of the book conservator. Do you have photos of this boxed set of knives? Please share this with Ann Lindsey!!! She’s the one who put this book in our radar at the Huntington.

  6. Hey Marieka- There is a picture of the outside of the box in the post titled “upcoming events in june”. Inside are two knives, both made from A2 steel, a paring and small lifter. I have a feeling we won’t have to wait too long for a sequel to this book!

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