I read the Finnish translation Libri di Lucan arvoitus (The mystery of Libri di Luca). It’s a standalone Danish mystery with supernatural elements: some people have magical powers which are used through reading out loud!

Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2005
Translator: Katriina Huttunen
Format: print
Page count: 439
Publisher of the Finnish translation: WSOY

Jon Campbelli is a very successful defense lawyer in Copenhagen. His father Luca owns a second hand bookstore, Libri di Luca, but they haven’t spoken in years because after Jon’s mother died Luca gave the boy up for adoption. The book starts when Luca dies seemingly of a heart attack and Jon’s life turns upside down. At first, Jon doesn’t want anything to do with the store but he comes to the store anyway. It turns out that the store is a beloved place for a lot of people and they’re afraid the Jon will sell it. Among the people Jon meets is Katherina, a young woman who has sever dyslexia because of car accident, Iversen who helped Luca run the store for many years and whom Jon remembers from his childhood, and a hostile young man called Pew who is also part of the regular bookstore crowd. But soon Jon finds out that his father has been part of a secret organization of readers. People, who have essentially magical powers which manifest through reading.

Meanwhile, Jon’s employer hands him a difficult case: Remer is a powerful businessman whom the police have been investigating for years. However, Remer is difficult to deal with and difficult to even meet. Also, when Jon finally meets him, Remer seems to be more interested in Libri di Luca’s fate than in his own upcoming trial.

This book has a very interesting magic system (it’s the only supernatural element). There are two kinds of magic users, transmitters and receivers, who can influence people when they’re reading and how they perceive the text. The groups are suspicious of each other and generally don’t get along. However, people in both groups liked Luca. The magical reading was fascinating and I would have liked to see more examples of it.

Jon becomes very quickly interested in the magic for someone who is supposedly only interested in his job and who hates fiction (because he’s angry at his father for abandoning him). To me, Katherina was the more complex character; after her accident, her powers had bloomed quickly and she didn’t know what was going on. For a while she thought she was going crazy, hearing voices in her mind (actually people who were reading nearby) until Luca found her and told her what was going on. Apparently, some Lectors do end up insane or drunk, trying to drown out the voices. Before meeting Luca, she learned to keep quiet about the voices and at the start of the book she’s a very quiet person.

Apparently, the book is labeled as a thriller but I think it works much better as a mystery, because there aren’t many chase scenes or running around.

I enjoyed the magic system and the book is a light and quick read.

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