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BOOK REVIEW: VANITY FIRE
BY JOHN M. DANIEL

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In 2005's THE POET'S FUNERAL, John Daniel proved himself a keen observer of present day publishing and bookkselling in the US. That book was a tongue in cheek romp as Guy Mallon searched to solve the murder of an author first brought to public attention by his small publishing house.

In VANITY FIRE, Daniel once again places the action in the publishing world, but this time the action has a more serious tone. Guy Mallon and Carol Murphy who are business partners as well as lovers, are approached by a wealthy investor who is seeking a publisher for an autobiography written by a well known jazz vocalist. Thinking that offering a publishing contract to a big name performer will provide sorely needed exposure for their small press, they agree. But the investor takes over too much of their operation and at his insistence they find themselves sharing office space with a print on demand scam artist.

In short order, their office building burns down, at least one body is found inside, and Carol disappears with troubling clues to her whereabouts left behind. The title VANITY FIRE is a pun on a passage found in John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS and Daniel includes a quote: "and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. ......there are at all times to be seen . . . . cheats, games, plays, fools.... and thefts, murders ..." Indeed all these and more are confronted by Mallon, until he summons enough courage to confront them all and find his way back to the straight and narrow. Daniel's books are rare treats for all who love books and who are interested in the future of American publishing.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK




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