Death by the Book
Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $24.99
With the economy still in recession, in Sydney, Australia, used-book dealer Jack Susko is concerned about surviving. So when affluent businessman, Hammond Kasprowicz asks him to retrieve all the works of a poet he never heard of at $50 for each book retrieved; repeat copies of the same poetry book is acceptable. Strapped for money, Jack jumps at the deal.
Susko searches for copies of the works of Edward Kass; he ignores his own curiosity as to why the client wants them. Although he knows not to get involved personally, he cannot resist the lure of Kasprowicz's daughter, Annabelle. However, the case turns nasty when instead of just the required tomes, corpses begin to surface. With a cop watching his every move as the prime suspect in the homicides especially in light of his background, Susko decides to uncover the real killer before the police arrest him on shaky circumstantial evidence or he becomes the next victim.
This is a terrific Australian hard-boiled amateur sleuth as Susko adapts from searching for books to searching for a killer; his chutzpah assumption is there is no difference between death by the Book or death by a murderer. His asides and commentary are amusing and acerbic as he investigates the killings before the cops throw the book at him.