Whatever Jason Shiga has for breakfast, I want some!
Shiga has flown under my radar for quite a while. It wasn’t until recently, when I read about his choose-your-own-adventure style book, that I noticed him. Boy do I feel like a fool!
Bookhunter was originally published back in 2007. With Shiga’s recent notoriety (for both the aforementioned “Meanwhile” to his most recent “Empire State”), his earlier works are being reprinted. Bookhunter is just such a piece.
Much like Chew, Bookhunter is set in an alternate timeline. However, instead of a police force based around the FDA, the world of Bookhunter revolves around the Library of Congress. The public library system has its own police force and set of crime scene investigators who use any and all means necessary to locate and return missing books.
Set in the early 1970′s, Bookhunter tells the story of badass book cop, Agent Bay. He is on the trail of someone who stole a rare book from the Oakland Public Library. On the surface this may seem like something better suited for a Sunday afternoon program on your local PBS station, Shiga turns it in to a compelling police procedural. From the high-tech of the 70′s (cell phones, microfilm, modems), to a case that is “three concentric locked room mysteries”, Bookhunter is anything but a dusty read.
Shiga is wise to set the story in the past. As much as we want to believe that we are living in the glory days of the cop program (CSI, NCIS, Law & Order), the 70′s were the true golden age. Those were the days of the cops and detectives who not only worked the labs, but also worked the streets. They were willing to get their hands dirty, as long as they kept the evidence clean.
Agent Bay is much the same. He is equal parts Gus Grissom and David Starsky. When he isn’t busy ordering up lab tests and bossing techs around, he is kicking in doors and blowing out people’s bladders with shotguns. He is by far the most entertaining librarian I have read in a long time!
An entertaining read and a solid mystery, Bookhunter will keep you hooked until the end. Just be sure that, if you borrow it from the library, you have it back in time. You don’t want Agent Bay and his team kicking in your door and ruining your day!