Review: It is 1972, when printed books mattered, and independent bookstores were in great demand. Francis "Hoop" Johnson, about thirty years old, is a tall, bearded man of a few words and the newest employee of Maxwell Bookstore in Palo Alto, California. He suffers from a disparaging stuttering problem. He can read or recite poetry without a hint of an impediment, but it is difficult for him to carry on a normal conversation. Hoop has been hired by Elmer Maxwell, founder, owner and manager of the bookstore to be a book cop in Hooperman, a bibliophile mystery by John M. Daniel.
Maxwell knows he's losing money on his bookstore, but not from day-to-day operations but from theft. For $5 a day Hoop walks up and down the aisles of the store pretending to be browsing but really on the lookout for anyone who may be hiding a book in a purse or under a piece of clothing. If he catches someone doing so, he's rewarded with a bonus. But he quickly learns that very few of the store's patrons actually steal from it. The quantity of books he recovers doesn't nearly cover the amount the store is losing. He begins to suspect that it might be one of his 14 co-workers that is the thief, some of whom have been friends of Maxwell for years. But everyone seems to get along with each other, even trust each other. Could one of them really be a thief?
Hooperman is a delightful story filled with well-drawn characters. There are a lot of flashbacks to Hoop's childhood and how he was taunted by his peers for his speech impediment. Far more of a character study than a whodunit-style mystery, readers will nonetheless be drawn into his investigation of the thefts. The outcome doesn't matter so much as just getting to know this memorable character.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Hooperman.
Acknowledgment: Oak Tree Press provided a copy of Hooperman for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Behind the Redwood Door
Dark Oak Mysteries (Trade Paperback), November 2011
ISBN-13: 9781610090230; ISBN-10: 1610090233
Location(s) referenced in Hooperman: California
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Hooperman by John M. Daniel — A Bookstore Mystery
Publisher: Oak Tree Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: November 2013
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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