In my youth, I closely followed the adventures of the comic book detective Sexton Blake and his faithful bloodhound, Pedro.
I recall that when Sexton diligently sought villains hiding in country houses, he inevitably homed in on the library, seeking the fake book that acted as a lever to reveal the door leading to a secret space discreetly hidden behind bookshelves.
Pick up any mystery novel involving a hidden room and inevitably it's concealed behind a wall stuffed full of leather-bound books.
So, when it was revealed this week that Auckland's new mayoral suite has a secret chamber containing a bathroom and dressing room hidden behind an old-fashioned bookcase, I immediately wondered - has the designer been reading too many gothic detective stories?
Clearly, the creators of this oddity haven't noticed that nobody reads books any more and that in today's electronic world, filling dreary-looking timber shelving with endless volumes of bound paper is bound to be seen as an archaic way of concealing an inner sanctum.
I don't know the mayor's literary tastes, but he's clearly going to need some big volumes to fill what appears to be fixed shelving more appropriate for holding funeral parlour urns, perhaps containing the ashes of past mayors.
On the other hand, today it's possible to buy fake books to fill the space.
I recall visiting an overseas furniture show and viewing a bookcase of leather bound, gold decorated book spines, displaying classic titles, which opened up to reveal video storage containers.
The pornographic titles within suggested this furnishing accessory was designed especially for those who prefer to keep salacious entertainment discreetly hidden behind a facade of literary enlightenment.
Not that I'm suggesting to our civic leader that this is the answer to his empty bookshelves. Nor do I expect him to rely on the Auckland City Library to fill the space with titles becoming a Super-City incumbent.
Because the bookshelves are in full view, it's important that the mayor knows what literary works adorn his suite and can answer with confidence when an interested visitor, such as myself, waspishly asks: "I notice you have a copy of Osip Mandelstam's Journey to Armenia in your personal library; what do you think about the author's acidulous approach to Stalin's ideological paradigm?"
On reflection, I suppose that if he is faced with such an unfathomable question, Len can always leap up, plead another appointment, pull a hidden lever and disappear into his bolthole.