Julie Smith. Huckleberry Fiend (1987) 216 pp.
Paul McDonald, a former investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle now living in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland and trying to make a living as a mystery writer, is given a manuscript by his friend Booker Kessler, who also happens to be a burglar. The manuscript contains the opening chapters of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but can it possibly be the real thing? Or is it an elaborate forgery? Booker, who—even though he is a thief—has morals, hires Paul to find out if it is authentic and, if so, who the rightful owner is. The investigation takes Paul first to the Mark Twain Papers at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, where he learns that this portion of Huck Finn is, indeed, lost and that it does look an awful lot like the genuine article. Enough that someone is willing to kill to get their hands on it.
Settings: Oakland; University of California, Berkeley; Mississippi; Virginia City, Nevada