The Best Cellar

Charles A. Goodrum, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-312-00008-0
In 1814, the British burned Washington, D.C., destroying the White House, the Capitol and the Library of Congress and its entire collection. To the rescue stepped former President Thomas Jefferson, who sold his 6000-volume collection of books to the Congress for $24,000quite a sum at a time when $300 a year was considered a good income. In 1981, scholars discovered letters from the period that indicated that the original books may never have been destroyed and the story may have been concocted by Jefferson's friends to help the great man, who was, at the time, suffering severe financial setbacks. Taking this as his cue, Goodrum (Carnage of the Realm, a former director of planning at the Library of Congress, sets his sleuths Crighton Jones, Steve Carson and Edward George hot on the trail of the fabled books, delivering a fascinating, if somewhat slow-moving, mystery that involves descendents of Virginia's powerful First Families, the librarians and researchers at the nation's most famous libraries, and the cut-throat competition that exists between graduate students. Although the characters are a little dated, their language rather artificial and the narrative a bit repetitive, Goodrum's fact-based plot will keep readers turning pages. (August 18)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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