Anonymous Rex, by Eric Garcia, Berkley, 2000, 319pp.
A murder mystery set in a world where a large portion of the population is made up of dinosaurs wearing latex suits to pass as humans. If you ignore all the logical problems with this -- and you have to ignore pretty hard, as there are human-dino sex scenes -- then you are left with a reasonable enough, if forgettable detective story. It reminds me of a science fiction short story I read as a kid, where a computer tailors every book to the exact niche that will suit a given reader. I have not seen any detective stories about Japanese used books, but there are plenty about antiquarians. I read Booked to Die a while back, and enjoyed the book-collecting details. You may ask, what is the niche for cartoonish dinos in drag, who get high on basil? Beats me.
Moghul Buffet, by Cheryl Benard, Soho, 1998, 264pp.
The niche for this book is anyone interested in Pakistan/India who suspects that life behind a veil in these countries is no fun at all. (So I'm saving my copy to give to my step-mother.) My friend Laurie recommended the story. I remember she wore a veil once on a trip to the near east, and said something similar to the western woman character who tries one on in her hotel room: "The veil is a walking prison, yes, a constant sensory deprivation, a symbol of servitude. But you are distant in it, too, untouchable, like a god too powerful to have a name Too frightening for anyone to dare to look upon his face". That was the only slightly-positive bit about the veil: the rest is rape and sadness. Still Benard is the better writer, and clearly has experience of the locale.
Paul wrote: ARex is the perfect "first retirement 20 minutes to finish" book. Read it on a vaca a year ago and thought it was silly but funny. there have been, I understand, several sequels!