A valuable Bible has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library, and Agent Bay, Library Marshal, along with his team of highly capable Library Police, is on the job.
“To summarize, we’re basically dealing with three concentric locked-room mysteries,” says Agent Bay. He must find who stole the book and how they did it, and do it all before the book can be sold on the “grey market.” To do this, Agent Bay uses an ice cream truck as a surveillance van, has access to Apache helicopters, and an ALA (American Library Association) Profiler who can provide such obscure details as the appearance of the suspect’s hands and samples of bookbinding scents. When the suspect leaves a single eyebrow hair at the scene of the crime, the Library Police even know what books she has checked out: “We know from her hair to lookup vegan cookbooks too.”
After a no-nonsense beginning, Agent Bay shoots one of his team members in the chest (he’s wearing a bullet-proof vest) so he can use the backwards momentum to position himself behind the bad guy, just in time to snuff the match that would have destroyed a pile of books.
This kind of inventive bloodshed, along with the high technology required to apprehend the immediate threat of a professional book thief, showcases the subtle and delightful humor inherent in Bookhunter.
In addition to the curt dialogue and straight-forward plot, Shiga uses seemingly casual brush strokes to convey great detail. Action scenes that would leave a lesser artist with awkward drawings instead shine with life under Shiga’s hand. His characters have a very human cunning about them, which helps make his style so distinct.
Rife with card-catalogue file action, radioactive dye and fission track dating, the question of reading Bookhunter, whether a fan of books, libraries, or secret missions, is solved.