Writer Matthew Pearl is earning positive reviews for his new book “The Last Bookaneer,” with critics calling the novel “a loving testament to the enduring power of paper books” and Pearl himself “the reigning king of popular literary historical thrillers.”
“Bookaneer,” which was released on April 28, centers on the hunt for a manuscript by “Treasure Island” author Robert Louis Stevenson. “Bookaneers” like Pen Davenport make money by absconding with manuscripts, but now that new laws will put this trade to a halt, Davenport and others set out to complete one last theft: getting their hands on Stevenson’s unpublished book.
The novel was selected by the Monitor as one of the best books of May and Shelf Awareness writer Jen Forbus called it “a grand adventure befitting Robert Louis Stevenson…. [a] magnificently crafted escapade through the dangerous jungles of 19th-century publishing. ‘The Last Bookaneer’ is a clever gem the bookaneers would undoubtedly steal.”
Meanwhile, both Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal gave the novel starred reviews, with Chicago’s Liv Hanson writing for LJ, “This swashbuckling tale of greed and great literature will remind you why Pearl ("The Dante Club"; "The Poe Shadow") is the reigning king of popular literary historical thrillers. His latest is guaranteed to delight lovers of history and mystery.” Meanwhile, KR found the book to be “an entertaining adventure tale…. Pearl is a smooth writer whose adoption of the ambling pace, digressions, and melodrama of an earlier literary era may not suit today's instant gratifiers, but he offers many of the charms and unrushed distractions of a favorite old bookstore.
Publishers Weekly was also mostly won over by the book, calling it an “ingenious literary caper…. [there’s] a colorful cast of roguish characters…. this book is a loving testament to the enduring power of paper books.”