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Can't find the book on the desk
What if you sold the book before realizing it's value?
Then buy it back from the merchant you sold it to. Every merchant permanently retains everything sold to them (unless you buy it back of course) so if you can find out who you sold it to you can just re-buy the book.
you cannot sell quest items like books
Some clarifying points I've discovered on my playthrough.
The book is located on the desk at the back door, not in the room with the hatch.
If you have the Pet Pal perk and talked to Jakes Dog near his grave you'll also have to loot the Panties in the chest near the bed upstairs and take it to jake to smell.
I killed his dog and looted the panties
I don't get it, I have been lost in this damn town for 10 hours trying to figure it out. Finally went in the back door, got the book and dagger, talked to Esmeralda then Captain Aureus. The captain did nothing and now I'm back to the exact same quest lines as before I got the book and related...
You have to actually ask Areus "I think there is somebody you need to arrest" then decide to or not to. Then it will be completed.
One objective says "Find the Poem hidden in the chest at the crime scene.", but I'm pretty sure you need to read it, too, so maybe you missed that.
I discovered you can also get jakes dog to smell various items so you can find the murderer that way to. Thus the smelly panties in Esmerelda's house.
I am stuck on this, esmeralda is in jail, and the quest isnt completed.