The Secret of Lost Things, by Sheridan Hay

Rosemary Savage is a naïve teenager from Tasmania who never knew her father and is left an orphan by the early death of her mother. A friend who runs a bookstore where Rosemary worked sets her on her way to a new life with an airplane ticket to New York City. There, Rosemary seeks refuge in a job at the Arcade, a large used and rare book store.
There she encounters an eclectic cast of co-workers. Pike, the grumpy, demanding owner of the Arcade, is Scrooge in a new setting. Rosemary’s co-workers include Geist, an aging, nearly blind, socially inept albino social who develops a libidinous interest in her; Pearl, a man living as a woman while preparing for sex-change surgery and Rosemary’s confidant; Oscar, a man who knows everything about fabrics but nothing about affection and who is repulsed by Rosemary’s affection for him, and Mitchell, the rare book expert and Rosemary’s father figure.
Rosemary becomes a pawn in the quest for The Isle of the Cross, a supposedly lost and never published novel by Herman Melville. Geist is on to it, but needs Rosemary’s help even to read a letter hinting that the original manuscript still exists and may be available. Oscar is on to Geist, and Mitchell is on to both of them, and Geist and Mitchell both seek Rosemary’s help in monitoring the others.
The Isle of the Cross never really existed, of course. But the author makes use of the possibility to fill gaps in what we do know of Melville and reaches an obvious conclusion in a surprising fashion.
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