Book review: Novel glimpses inside the world of rare books and delivers a mind-blowing ending you’ll not see coming


Think of it as Dan Brown meets Carlos Castaneda.

A little obscure for you? Welcome to “The Testament of James,” a novel by Vin Suprynowicz set in a quaint New England town where the mysteries — several of them — are intertwined with the rare — and often obscure — book trade. It is a libertarian screed in which profit is not a dirty word and individual liberty of mind and body is paramount against the evils of all-controlling, stultifying church and state.

The rapid-fire action is mostly cerebral, though there are threats to life and limb. I counted only three gun shots in the entire book and none of those hit anyone. So, how would you escape from a lady’s room with an armed gunmen guarding the door?

The plot centers around efforts to buy, sell or suppress the lost gospel according to Jesus’ brother James, or James the Just, if such a book exists and is not a fraud. Yes, according to Matthew 13:55, Jesus had four brothers — James, Joses, Simon and Judas, as well as some unnamed sisters, according to the next verse.

Could the content of such a book throw established Christendom into a liturgical tizzy? Of course, but in a way you’ll never suspect. Take that, Dan Brown.

The characters who populate the book are quirky, literate, cunning and engage in snappy, irreverent and amusing dialogue — from book dealer Matthew, who must keep patiently explaining why certain books cost more than they did when new, to pink pistol packing Chantal to the caped villain from the Vatican to the old veteran who explains the nuances of the British .303. Even the cats have personalities.

The book is peppered with glimpses of the enigmatic rare book business. For example, what would a mint-condition copy of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” signed by its author and illustrator to their good friend Timothy Leary be worth, if it existed? As much as a new car.

Suprynowicz, who was an editorialist and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for nearly two decades, delivers a breezy narrative that keeps one turning the pages — as plot twists and turns fall like manna from Heaven, so to speak — to reach the startling denouement.

Hardback copies of the book are available at Abe Books. There may be a few signed copies left if you hurry. An electronic Kindle version is also available on Amazon.

While some books, like those of Michael Chrichton, read like movie scripts and you can almost hear “cut” at the end of the chapter, “Testament” reads like you are listening to it, which is probably due to Vin’s unique writing technique, which is to sit down and just start typing as though the muses were dictating to him. How about an audio version of “Testament,” Vin?

Can’t wait for the next installment, “The Miskatonic Manuscript.”


Maybe it will be worth more than the cover price someday.










11 comments on “Book review: Novel glimpses inside the world of rare books and delivers a mind-blowing ending you’ll not see coming

  1. iShrug says:

    I just ordered a signed copy. I’ve been reading too much about current events. I need a break!

  2. It is a good distraction, but will also make you realize how much is out there that you never heard of.

  3. iShrug says:

    I’ll probably order the Kindle version, to keep my rare and valuable copy in mint condition. Do you know whether there will be an audio version? I have to multi task in order to finish books these days.

  4. I just threw that in on lark. Not anytime soon. Besides people can read six times faster than listening to someone read the same words. That’s one reason I prefer newspapers to TV news.

  5. iShrug says:

    Vin writes that my copy will ship tomorrow, and number around 120.

  6. A.D. Hopkins says:

    I read this book and reviewed it favorably myself. But I like your review better.

  7. I was trying to tease without giving away too much.

  8. dave72 says:

    Any other books by raving crackpots would you recommend?

  9. Winston Smith says:

    How about 1984 and Brave New World?

  10. Steve says:

    Ahh…there it IS!

    That liberal open mindedness and acceptance we have all come to expect.

    The book is FICTION Dave! How about you actually READ it before judging it?

  11. ronknecht says:

    Great post, Mitch.

    Ron Knecht Economist & Nevada Controller 775-882-2935 775-684-5777 (Still) One Plain-speaking Nerd, But Now Nevada State Controller

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s