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Lit Lovers Lane

Inveterate, incurable readaholic, who blogs about books and what's in 'em. If readaholism is a deadly disease, no problem. Couldn't imagine a better way to go.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore



Review @ www.LitLoversLane.com


I would say it’s pretty difficult, if not damn near impossible, for a bookworm to resist a mystery set in a bookstore. At least, for this bookworm it was, so when Amazon recommend Mr. Penumbra’s, I immediately added it to my birthday wish list.

This solid read did not disappoint, instead delivering an intriguing story marrying an ancient mystery with today’s cutting edge computer technology. For me, the standout features were the narrator’s voice, the technology used to crack the mystery, and story itself.

Protagonist Clay Jannon quickly finds himself smack dab in the middle of a strange bookstore and a centuries-old puzzle. His character’s voice is perceptive, acerbic, and amusing as he describes the bookstore, Mr. Penumbra and the odd assortment of book shoppers, his own friends, and the situation in which he finds himself. I love nothing more than a quirky, slightly sarcastic sense of humor, and as I read, I felt I could have been in my own living room shooting the bull about people and events with my own BFFs. I really liked that vibe from the book.

Once Clay decides he’s got a mystery to solve, the techie resolves to use cutting edge computer technology to do so. I consider myself rather tech savvy, but I admit, it’s only from an end-user point of view. Reading the story and learning of the absolutely wild array of tech tools available to chase down information or solve a problem simply blew me away. It was like I was reading science fiction, but I knew I was not. This stuff exists! Simply from the standpoint of learning how technology can be employed these days, this was worth the read, though I must admit sometimes it became tedious and hard to comprehend.

The story itself is a fun one. What in the heck are all these strange patrons doing coming to a bookstore, treating it like a library, and reading a bunch of odd books no one’s ever heard of? The story caught my interest immediately, and held it completely throughout the entire book.

If I had any disappointment, it would be with the characters. Truthfully, I never quite connected with any of them, perhaps because the book was so driven by the mystery and the technology. In fact, it took me a long time to even remember Clay’s name. As for the other characters, particularly his friends, it seemed as if their only purpose was to add more and more fantastic technological, mystery-solving power to the mix. Their personalities and relationships were not explored in any real, in-depth way. Indeed, even the story surrounding Clay's love interest seemed superficial, uninteresting, and pretty much only there for the techie usefulness his “girlfriend” could bring to the table.

Still, this is a fun, fast-paced read that I enjoyed quite a bit. On my blog, I really gave this a 3.5, but on here I bump the rating up rather than down.