Have you ever read any Karin Slaughter? Yeah, well, me neither. It's amazing how many authors' books I've been handling for years without ever once bothering to crack them open. And that's with me cracking open so many books that I've come to think of it warmly as my side job at the library.
But even with this, I know much about these unread (by me) authors. I somehow acquire a rough sense of what they write, I know the approximate level of their popularity, and, if their name comes up in conversation, in any context, images of their book covers and book spines immediately flash through my mind. It may be a product of sheer osmosis. After all, I spend most of my days with their books.
And that is how I knew someone was messing with the Karin Slaughter mysteries.
The first incident could have been a mere coincidence. I suppose I maybe thought that was the case at the time. But something about it registered in me.
I turned the corner of the S's in our mystery section. A book had dropped in an ungainly fashion from the third shelf. It lay sprawled awkwardly on the floor. It was by Karin Slaughter.
Fallen was its name.
Thinking, as I said, that it was likely an amusing coincidence, I nevertheless approached that section with consciousness and a wary eye the next day. Everything was on the shelf, which was good, but clearly something was amiss with one of the books, which was not so good. The book was standing in its space, but the top half was sort of piled on the bottom half, not quite whole. Mysteriously the book looked as if it had been snapped in half, like some immensely powerful person had bent it with massive force until it split. To this day I have no idea how this feat was accomplished. The book? By Karin Slaughter.
Broken was its name.
I brought this information to an array of colleagues and supervisors. No four alarm emergency was sounded, but there was much clucking of tongues and very general admonitions to keep an eye out.
Day three brought me to the Karin Slaughters once more, and this time everything looked fine. But I had a feeling that we weren't finished. I was sure that something would be wrong if I could only solve the puzzle. On a hint of a suspicion I removed one of the books. Pulling it out, the entire book fell to pieces in my hands, every page disassembled from the binding, no part of the book anymore attached to any other part of the book. It was a mess as it spilled madly out of my hands.
I brought these pieces of a book, this former book, this heap of a book, once Undone, now undone, and showed a manager. "Can we view our security system?" I asked. I was as eager to apprehend this book vandal as I was to see how this person preformed these acts of destruction. Long story short, reviewing security footage is considered a pretty big deal. It was decided we would look if there was one more act of book destruction.
At this point I don't know what drove me most, the search for justice,
the amusing, game-like puzzles, or the mystery of how these elaborate
word matched vandalisms were accomplished, but I was pretty ramped up to
see what the mystery section had in store for me on day 4. I raced
upstairs, combed the Karin Slaughter books carefully and methodically,
and came up with... nothing. I was pretty disappointed. But then I
realized I was underrating this bizarre master criminal. Something,
just something had to be up. I decided I needed to stop and really think
about it. So I did. I thought hard. Nothing. I raised my eyes to the
ceiling to think harder and, I saw something. It was a little corner
sticking out from on top of one of the hanging fluorescent light
fixtures. Excited, I jumped up to try and grab it. Almost. I tried
several more times. I think I almost knocked it once. I got one of our
little black stools, but I couldn't quite get to it. I rounded up a
taller person. Again, almost. Finally we had to go get a ladder to bring
it down. Even then, it was curiously difficult to get a hold of. It
was, of course, a Karin Slaughter book.
I brought this up with the supervisors. Our hands were tied because
there was no damage to the book. We needed another ruined book to act.
There was nothing wrong with our copy of Beyond Reach.
I lost my enthusiasm. Clearly this person was too wily for us. I even
sort of felt like the whole prank had probably run its course.
Nevertheless, after a couple of days off, I figured I should check the
Karin Slaughters one more time. Once again it seemed like there was
nothing, just a rather usual, book sized gap. But I knew what book
belonged there and what it meant.
Unseen, by Karin Slaughter, was nowhere to be found.
I no longer look carefully at the Karin Slaughters. You might even say I sort of hurry through them. But sometimes, up in the mystery stacks, I find myself, in off moments, just
sort of feeling around. Like, as if one day my hand might light upon an
invisible book, physical, but unseen. But to this day, I have never