Unsolicited (Booklover's Mystery Series #1)

Unsolicited (Booklover's Mystery Series #1)

by Julie Kaewert

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From bestseller to death-dealer
London's Plumtree Press has a world-class bestseller of a novel. And the sequel is earmarked to get this old family firm out of the red. But its anonymous author, known to Plumtree only as "Arthur," has apparently vanished, leaving the crucial last five chapters undelivered. Alex already knows they reveal the identity of the characters who smuggled British children to America during World War II. But, of course, this is fiction. So when a lead critic previews the book as a nonfiction exposé, Alex is shocked. Even more so when the critic is murdered...and Alex finds himself the target of a ruthless hunt for the manuscript and bizarre attempts on his life. Ducking newshounds, government officials, and the sniping of jealous publishers, Alex knows only one thing: If he can't find Arthur and untangle the truth, his next season's list may be a posthumous one.

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307492395
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/10/2008
Series: Booklover's Mystery Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 578,359
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Julie Kaewert first indulged her fascination with book publishing by taking the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course in 1981. She then worked for book publishers in Boston and London before starting her writing career with a London magazine. Her series of mysteries for booklovers has topped mystery bestseller lists around the country. She is the author of Unprintable, Uncatalogued, Unsigned, Unbound, Unsolicited, and Untitled.

Read an Excerpt

When I received the telegram in Skópelos, I should have wired my regrets immediately: “Thanks, but no thanks. Having far too much fun leading sailing holidays. Must respectfully decline offer to take charge of family firm. Stop.”
Instead, I said I’d be on the next plane, and it nearly cost me my life.
I’d had reservations about coming back to manage the small, sedate publishing house I’d inherited, but my worst fear was that I would die of boredom. No one told me that book publishing was a murderous business, and that within a single week in the not-so-distant future I would barely escape death in a dozen exotic forms.
The treachery of the business wasn’t immediately apparent; far from it. For my first two years with the company it seemed that nothing could go wrong, and I was lulled into a false sense of well-being. It came as a nasty surprise when, on a drizzly October evening almost two years to the day after I’d returned to London, I got the first inkling that all was not as it should be.
I climbed out of Farringdon tube station jet-lagged and woozy, fresh off the plane from Boston. I’d spent two utterly unproductive days there trying to close a copublishing deal with an American company, and didn’t much feel like going out that evening. But a promise was a promise. Two weeks earlier I had agreed to attend the publication party of a competing book publisher, Soames and Sons, to celebrate the release of Fleet Street Beat, the memoirs of one of London’s more respected tabloid editors.
I turned down a cobblestoned alley under a sign that said CHURCHILL’S REAL ALES and sighed. Why Soames and Sons was throwing its party at this tourist trap of an old brewery, miles from the nearest tube station, I couldn’t imagine. I’d been here once before, and the smell of rampant fermentation was still fresh in my mind.
I told myself to give Soames and Sons credit; at least they had a reason to throw a party. It was more than I could say for my little company.
No sooner had I straightened my tie and entered the brewery’s yawning stone hall than Alison Soames wiggled up to me in a tight electric blue suit. She was the new blood in Soames and Sons, which I often thought should be renamed Soames and Daughter, as Rupert Soames had no sons.
“Alex! You came.” She was flushed and slightly out of breath as she took my arm. Alison’s décolleté fashions and breathy voice tricked some people into thinking she had more beauty than brains, but she didn’t fool me.
I looked around and smiled, shaking my head. “You’ve done it again, Alison. I don’t know how you expect us to compete.”
It was clear to me now why Alison, a public-relations genius, had decided to have the party here. The brewery’s size and general atmosphere of decay had allowed her to create a full-scale replica of Fleet Street, the infamous home of London’s journalists. Pasteboard facades of the familiar buildings lined the walls, and costumed actors set type by hand at old-fashioned printing presses positioned throughout the room. I gazed in wonder at several giant rolls of newsprint hanging overhead, suspended from ceiling-mounted cranes.
I was impressed by Alison’s authenticity. Not many people knew that when London papers had actually printed their news in Fleet Street, there had been no other way to get the big reels of newsprint into the cramped old buildings but through upper-storey windows. Cranes had hoisted the two-ton cylinders in from the back alley like tin cans on strings.
She gave me a look of mock reprimand, tilting her bleached blond head to one side. “Don’t give me your hard-luck story, Plumtree. You’re the one with the best-seller.”
I smiled modestly. There was no point in telling her that, barring a miracle, within a week or so I would have to close the doors of Plumtree Press for good.
Alison beckoned to a passing waiter and lifted a pint off his tray. She thrust it into my hand as if in condolence. “Drink it and weep, Plumtree.”
Standing very close, she ran her hand down my back in a way that made me shiver. Then she winked and was gone. I stared after her for a moment, feeling slightly confused in her wake. Alison never failed to interest me, physically if not otherwise, and she would probably be a lot of fun if I were in the market. But I wasn’t—not at the moment, anyway.
I took a sip from the dripping mug, trying not to spill it on my suit, and got my bearings.
Everyone was hard at it, the journalists drinking and the publishers talking as fast as they decently could. Most of the book reviewers from the major London papers and magazines were there, as well as the managing directors or senior editors of publishing houses like mine. They studiously avoided looking at their watches to determine which train they could take to their country retreats for the weekend; after all, it was well worth the investment of a Friday evening to establish a rapport with an influential reviewer. The return, in the form of a review in a Sunday paper, could be on their doorstep in the space of a few weeks.
With gratitude I spotted Barnes Appleton, the most influential reviewer of them all, and headed in his direction. A chat with him was a worthy excuse for not performing my real duty for the evening, which was a sort of Plan B in case the American copublishing deal didn’t come through. Loathsome as the thought was, I would have to gauge the interest of several competitors, including Rupert Soames, in purchasing a chunk of my company.
It was unfortunate that the only people likely to be interested in a piece of Plumtree Press were my father’s most bitter competitors, several of whom were downright obnoxious. But even more than the personalities involved, I hated the idea of selling out. Aside from the feeling that I was betraying my father and three generations of Plumtrees before him, I hated it because Plumtree Press had come so close to having more profit on its bottom line this year than any of its competitors had seen in decades.
Just not close enough.
Barnes Appleton saw me coming and raised his glass in greeting. He reminded me of a chubby leprechaun: short, fairly jolly, rosy cheeks. But this benign image masked a force to be reckoned with in the world of print. He wrote for the Sunday Tempus, and had won the prestigious Beecroft Award, the British equivalent of the American Pulitzer prize, the year before. His exposé on a third-world dictator had actually gotten the ruffian thrown out of office.
Barnes was also a recovering alcoholic, and of all his achievements I admired that one the most. I thought it must take a lot of courage on his part to come to these industry functions where alcohol flowed like the River Fleet.
“Alex,” Barnes said, looking pleased. “I hoped I’d see you here tonight.” He had to tip his head back to look up at me, and I was aware of our extreme difference in height. At six foot five inches, I was a full foot taller than he, and I wondered if he would get a sore neck talking to me.
“Well,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “Same here.” I was surprised at the warmth of his greeting and somewhat flattered. We were acquaintances, certainly, but no more. I wondered what was up. “How’s the critiquing business?”
“That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.” He glanced at someone over my shoulder, gave me a worried smile, and steered me off toward a nearby printing press. Assuming he was trying to avoid someone, I played along.
When we were safely behind the press, Barnes glanced surreptitiously around the room and frowned. Finally he spoke, barely moving his lips and speaking so softly that I had to lean over to hear him.
“I’m not sure I should be telling you this, Alex, but I think you’ve a right to know.”
I looked at him with interest. I’d never seen him act so mysteriously.
“Know what?”
He reacted as if I’d shouted. He looked around nervously and held up a palm. “For God’s sake, Alex, don’t make a scene—act your inscrutable self.”
“All right, all right,” I said, chastised. His habit of looking around was contagious.
When he spoke again, it was in a stage whisper. “Something very big has happened with that sequel you gave me to preview.” He swept the room again with his eyes. “And someone out there is doing his best to prevent me from telling the story. I wanted you to know before—”
“Barnes! Alex.” It was Alison Soames getting her money’s worth. The opportunity to talk to Barnes Appleton was one of the reasons she’d organized this party. With a mixture of fascination and dread, I wondered how close she would stand this time.

Customer Reviews

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Unsolicited (Booklover's Mystery Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the first sentence! Action packed, fast paced a compelling page turner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It kept me guessing all the way through as to who was doing what to whom and would she or wouldn't she. Such suspense! I don't wan to spoil anything so I'll just say I'm a Kaewert fan forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julie Kaewert is a wonderful storyteller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never been a big fan of prequels, but this one I found to be very good. Not as good as the other books, but still a good read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Alex Plumtree is very proud of his heritage, but as a second son he never expected to take charge of the family's small London-based publishing company. However, his older brother Max proves incapable of running it. Alex's first year at the helm goes smoothly and the company even has a bestseller written by an anonymous author going by the name Arthur.

Arthur writes a sequel 'Those Who Trespass Against Us' in which Alex has everything but the final five chapters. The book centers on the kidnapping and selling of British children during World War II. When Arthur disappears, Alex panics because the financial state of Plumtree Publishing heavily depends on Arthur's book. Alex learns that Arthur's book is based on actual facts and events with a real person willing to kill even a publisher to insure that the book never reaches the shelves.

UNSOLICITED was first released in 1994 as a hard cover. It is being re-released as a paperback and is the first novel in the 'Booklover's series'. Readers will meet in this debut tale characters who have since become popular. The audience also receives interesting glimpses at the British publishing industry. However, the novel belongs to the fascinating lead protagonist, whose complexity makes this story and other tales in this series entertaining.

Harriet Klausner

cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Things are looking up for Alex Plumtree and his London publishing firm, Plumtree Press, as the author of the firm's best-selling novel has almost completed its sequel. Plumtree Press has received all but the last five chapters from the author, known only as ¿Arthur¿, who uses only couriers and faxes to communicate with the publishing company. Uncharacteristically, ¿Arthur¿ has missed a delivery deadline. New information suggests that the novels, about children kidnapped and sold during the World War II evacuation of London, are actually factual. If the story is true, the person(s) responsible for the kidnappings will go to great lengths to prevent the publication of the book. Alex is caught up in danger and intrigue as he tries to protect his firm and its mysterious author. You might not want to pick this one up for bedtime reading, as the fast-paced action will keep your adrenaline flowing!
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mystery involves Alex Plumtree who owns a publishing firm in London and a manuscript by an author using the pseudonym Arthur that is about to reveal a World War II era crime. Although the plot lent itself to promise, its delivery was disappointing. The end result was more like an amateur sleuth engaged in espionage than an exploration of the actual crime and gathering results. The action seemed to center on Alex's attempts to foil and go after his pursuers. I would have preferred an investigation into the crimes revealed by the manuscripts. Disappointing!
AdonisGuilfoyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Patchy mystery about a publisher whose life is threatened when his bestselling author is kidnapped to prevent a tell-all sequel being printed. I only bought this book for the publishing angle, but even so, the plot is a disappointment - in theory, an intriguing premise (British evacuees sold to American 'foster' parents during the second world war), but badly executed. Aside from the usual rash of fortuitous coincidences (a map on an inflight magazine pointing out a mystery location, etc.), I just didn't care. The missing children plot is underdeveloped; picked up in secret letters and journals, forgotten, and then used as a vague device for one of the characters. The 'evil genius' behind the whole scheme (who even gets to deliver a 'there's no harm in telling you now' exposition of his motives) is fairly obvious, various loose ends are left untied, and the rest is explained rather than revealed, for those readers hanging on until the bitter end. The main failing for me is the 'hero', Alex Plumtree, because the detective figure in a mystery series should always be more interesting that the plot, just in case, as happened here, the 'whodunit' falls short. I just didn't care for Alex, and his first person narrative was flat without a 'distinctive' voice of his own (Stout's Archie Goodwin has ruined me for life). Also, Alex's perving on the 'love of his life', a goddess called Sarah (I hate being told - repeatedly - that female characters are intelligent, like that's something out of the ordinary), was at best pathetic, and worst, creepy. He watches her chest straining against her blouse when she takes her jacket off, wishes he was the phone cord when it touches her, and observes that 'the muscles of her back were well defined, but the creamy expanse of skin was spectacularly feminine'! No wonder she held him at bay for so long! Also, the ridiculously 'quaint' names - Plumtree, Romney Marsh - would be more fitting in a Christie-esque cosy, not a pseudo-Hollywood action mystery, where the bespectacled hero suddenly decides to exit a lift by the overhead escape hatch a la Bruce Willis (has anybody actually ever done that?) Nostalgic England, where time has stood still since war was declared in 1939, or 1990s America - make your mind up, Miss Kaewert! (And on a nitpicking level, the editing is fairly lax. Alex is described as being a tall man, and then his shorter companion 'looks over his shoulder' - not to mention the Mini he drives around easily and without complaint later on in the story, after complaining that his Golf wasn't made for tall men!)Far too simplistic for me. I prefer characters with a bit of depth, better research, and a darker tone. I didn't believe in Alex, or the London he inhabits. Let's hope he gets to marry Sarah in the next instalment, and decides to move Stateside permanently.
gwendolenau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mystery, set mostly in England, with a side excursion to Nantucket, had an intriguing premise: a publisher whose old family firm is on the rocks receives an anonymous manuscript which becomes a surprise fiction bestseller. In the process of publishing the sequel, a mounting series of events convince him that the plot is not fiction after all but rather describes a real-life crime, and that there are persons unknown prepared to stop at nothing to prevent the publication of the denouement, which will reveal the actual perpetrator. Unfortunately, all of the fairly large cast of characters felt flat to me and none of them ever jumped off the page enough for me to care what was happening to them, including, and especially, the first person narrator. Instead, they all felt like ciphers being moved around by the author in furtherance of the complicated plot. I read to the end but I don¿t think I¿ll be seeking out any of the other mysteries in this series.
grundlecat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This publishing mystery was enjoyable even on a re-read. The "Big Brother is Watching You" feeling lent some plausibility to otherwise unlikely coincidences. Overall good plot, action and so on. Alex Plumtree is an interesting character and the describptions of his friends and co-workers are excellent. Lisette, his secretary, is particularly colorful. This is a solid, enjoyable series.
picardyrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first in an entertaining series about a publisher in London who gets caught up in various intrigues related to books. "Unsolicited" is my favorite because when the story begins, he has no more derring-do than you and I. Lucky thing nobody's after us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was very well done. I enjoyed the characters and the suspense kept me hooked. I can't wait to read more of the series.
NannyZ More than 1 year ago
Wonderful. Loved the characters. Just enough information so you feel involved in the sleuthing process.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are the rest of the books of this fablous series going to be released in digital form? I have the entire series in paperback ... but I would love it on my Nook also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago