book′a-neer′ (bŏŏk′kȧ-nēr′), n. a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in.
The plot of this book revolves bookaneer Pen Davenport and his rival, Belial, who travel to Samoa to shadow a dying Robert Lewis Stevenson in order to acquire his last novel. The story is mostly told by Davenport's assistant Fergins, who is befriended in his old age by Clover, a railroad porter in New York. Fergins is narrating the story to Clover, who is telling the whole story at the top of the story's structure. A significant factor in the story is the international copyright laws being effect at the climax. This spelled the end for bookaneers.
I found the start of the book a bit slow but around two thirds into it the action picks up. If you enjoyed Matthew Pearl’s previous novels, you should enjoy this one too.