The title could pass off as a short story by M.R. James or as one of the exploits of Robert Louis Stevenson’s little-known, rather Ruritanian sleuth called Prince Florizel. It is in fact a discursive and extraordinarily erudite book on an abstruse but delightful subject: those who collect, hoard, deal or care for astonishing manuscripts and illuminated books. His cast includes a Greek forger, a French priest, a rabbi, and indeed a prince… De Hamel is tremendously engaging and often funny.