Those who are familiar with Anne Perry’s impressive volume of work will be surprised by her contribution to the MysteriousPress.com bibliomystery project. A “bibliomystery,” as that term is used here, refers to a shorter mystery or suspense work that to a great degree revolves around books. As one might glean from its title, THE SCROLL concerns one of the earliest versions of a published written work (the grandfather, if you will) of the eBook --- and examines it in an entirely different way, one that you won’t soon forget.
"THE SCROLL is not a long tale but certainly is a frightening one, with elements of mystery and the supernatural interwoven in a seamless narrative that will leave you wondering at its conclusions."
It is Monty Danforth --- is that a great name, or what? --- who discovers the scroll during the course of his duties at a bookshop. A large lot of books has been received from an estate, and Monty is tasked with unpacking the crates and cataloguing the books within. It is a rather mundane task, until he finds a tin at the very bottom of the last crate. It contains a very interesting scroll, one that screams age and antiquity and is written in a language wholly unknown to Monty. He tries to photocopy it or take a picture of it with his phone, so that he can have it translated without sacrificing the original, but the document defies such modern treatment.
Bad and unusual things then begin to happen. Odd people with no reason to know of the scroll begin turning up at the shop, asking --- demanding --- to purchase the document and warning of dire consequences if it should be sold to someone else. Then the absentee owner of the bookshop is found murdered. When Monty is able to have a few words of the scroll translated, the reason for the sudden interest in the document begins to become clear, but it presents Monty with a new problem: he is caught between forces that each have their own reasons for possessing the scroll, and perhaps neither should have it. What should he do, if anything?
THE SCROLL is not a long tale but certainly is a frightening one, with elements of mystery and the supernatural interwoven in a seamless narrative that will leave you wondering at its conclusions. I don’t know how Perry’s fans will feel about this eBook, which is a bit of a departure from her normal subject matter, but for my money this is one of her best recent works, a complex tale that could be hailed as a classic of short fiction.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 16, 2012