About the Book
The rare book world is stunned when a reclusive collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and original manuscripts that have been vandalised beyond repair.
Adam’s sister, Meghan, and her lover, Will – a convicted if unrepentant literary forger – struggle to come to terms with the seemingly incomprehensible murder.
But when Will begins receiving threatening handwritten letters, seemingly penned by long-dead authors, but really from someone who knows secrets about Adam’s death and Will’s past, he understands his own life is also on the line – and attempts to forge a new beginning for himself and Meg.
In The Forgers, Bradford Morrow reveals the passion that drives collectors to the razor-sharp edge of morality, brilliantly confronting the hubris and mortal danger of rewriting history with a fraudulent pen.
Format: Paperback (256 pages) Publisher: Grove Press UK
Publication date: 5th November 2020  Genre: Crime, Mystery
Previously published in the US in 2014, The Forgers is set in the slightly obsessive world of antiquarian book collectors and dealers who, according to the book’s narrator, share “little else than a rabid passion for the printed page”. But not just any old printed page; we’re talking rare first editions, unpublished manuscripts, private letters and volumes inscribed by the author.
The narrator, Will (although he is rarely referred to by name), is a self-confessed forger. As he declares, “I myself was once a forger. Undeniably, and even unashamedly, triumphantly a forger.” He has a high opinion of his own ability, considering the forged inscriptions he adds to books to be ‘improvements’ and works of art in their own right. Reflecting on one of his creations, he says, “A forgery of this high quality is, to my mind, as informed by genius as any of your everyday authentic originals. It’s just that the creativity involved is of an altogether different variety.”
Given the above, the reader may well consider his testimony suspect from the outset. Will’s one redeeming feature is his devotion to Meghan, the sister of the murdered man, for whose sake he has undertaken to leave his nefarious past behind.
These worthy intentions are disrupted by the arrival of accusatory letters from a man whom Will comes to think of as his ‘epistolary nemesis’, rather in the manner of Sherlock Holmes’ arch-enemy Moriarty. An apt comparison, since Will is an expert on the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle. After all, he’s forged enough of them.
The author creates an air of increasing unease and tension as Will tries to discover the identity of his mystery correspondent and becomes increasingly paranoid about the threat he poses. There is also some playful humour. Reflecting on his progress at learning to operate a printing press, Will reports, “To say I took to it like a duck to water would be to employ a cliché – a lame duck of a cliché, at that.”
The book includes misdirection and red herrings in the manner of Agatha Christie and, although it started off promisingly, I have to say it rather fizzled out and I was left with a sense of anti-climax as I turned the final pages. The Forgers is an entertaining read and interesting as a portrait of the darker side of the antiquarian book world but not the completely satisfying mystery I’d hoped for.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Grove Press and Readers First.
In three words: Clever, playful, humorous
Try something similar: The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
About the Author
Bradford Morrow is the author of eight previous novels, including The Forgers and The Prague Sonata. He is the founding editor of Conjunctions. A professor of literature and Bard Center Fellow at Bard College, he lives in New York City. (Photo credit: Goodreads author profile)