In this sequel to Parnassus on Wheels, bibliophile Roger Mifflin has temporarily abandoned his traveling bookstore for a more permanent location on Gissing Street in Brooklyn. He calls his store the Haunted Bookshop, claiming that it is “haunted” by the ghosts of great literature. One day a young salesman named Aubrey Gilbert enters the store, hoping to persuade Roger to advertise with his firm; instead, the two men have an intense discussion that leaves Aubrey with a newfound appreciation for literature. When Aubrey returns to the shop a few days later, he is immediately smitten with Titania Chapman, the beguiling new shopgirl. But as he starts to visit the store more regularly, he notices something strange: an old and rather obscure volume keeps disappearing from the Haunted Bookshop and then re-appearing without warning. Is there a literary-minded thief frequenting the bookstore, or is something more sinister at work?
This is one of those cozy little books that take you back to a simpler time, and I found it absolutely charming! Roger Mifflin’s enthusiasm for books is infectious, and the novel is full of his musings on literature, both in general and about specific books. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize most of the titles he mentioned, presumably because they’ve gone out of fashion (and print!) since the book was published in 1919. But this is definitely the type of book that reminds me of the huge number of books in the world that I still haven’t read! The mystery plot is clever, though very slight and easy to guess (and very much a product of its time). I also liked the central characters, especially Aubrey, who makes a lot of endearing mistakes in his quest to solve the mystery and win Titania’s heart. All in all, I finished this book wishing that I could stop by the Haunted Bookshop for dinner and a literary discussion with these characters.