Hardback by Harvill Secker, £17.99 (ebook £9.99)
Remember those episodes of Doctor Who where Charles Dickens met ghosts at Christmas or Agatha Christie got caught up in a murder plot?
The Last Bookaneer is a similar author-meets-genre tale, an exotic hunt for treasure starring Robert Louis Stevenson. Matthew Pearl is clearly a bibliophile (previous books: The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, The Last Dickens), and it shines through in this piratical tale of people paid to loot manuscripts and smuggle them to foreign publishers.
There are two of these bookaneers left and the book focuses on their wonderfully twisty and duplicitous set-up venturing to a Samoan island, where Stevenson has settled down for the last years of his life and is writing a final masterpiece. It all plays out as an evocative Polynesian travelogue with all the audacious thievery of a fun heist film, but with defter characterisation and substantially more philosophising on the nature of stories.