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Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice costs him his badge. Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop -- all the while searching for evidence to put Newton away. But when prized volumes in a highly sought-after collection begin to appear, so do dead bodies. Now, Janeway's life is about to start a precarious new chapter as he attempts to find out who's dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains. Includes information on John Dunning's new Cliff Janeway novel, The Bookman's Promise, coming soon in hardcover from Scribner


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Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice costs him his badge. Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop -- all the while searching for evidence to put Newton away. But when prized volumes in a highly sought-after collection begin to appear, so do dead bodies. Now, Janeway's life is about to start a precarious new chapter as he attempts to find out who's dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains. Includes information on John Dunning's new Cliff Janeway novel, The Bookman's Promise, coming soon in hardcover from Scribner

30 review for Booked to Die

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lawyer

    Booked to Die: The Stuff that People Kill For Ah. I've finished a fine Boxing Day read of Booked To Die, the first Cliff Janeway novel by John Dunning. I should rate it Five Gold Rings and wish for eleven more days of Christmas filled with Janeways hung on the tree. If you're the fan of a good mystery, have suffered the hot flashes and chills of book fever over a rare and beautiful book, you may find this novel fills a sweet spot on your library shelf. It has earned a spot on my favorites shelf. Cl Booked to Die: The Stuff that People Kill For Ah. I've finished a fine Boxing Day read of Booked To Die, the first Cliff Janeway novel by John Dunning. I should rate it Five Gold Rings and wish for eleven more days of Christmas filled with Janeways hung on the tree. If you're the fan of a good mystery, have suffered the hot flashes and chills of book fever over a rare and beautiful book, you may find this novel fills a sweet spot on your library shelf. It has earned a spot on my favorites shelf. Cliff Janeway is a damned good cop in Denver, Colorado. Don't think he's the ordinary flatfoot taking a doughnut break slurping down a cup of Joe, either. Janeway is a "Bookman." He appreciates fine books. He's not a pro, but he's got the instincts, the eye, for spotting the books that put money in the bank. Welcome to the book world of Denver, Colorado. Take a walk down Book Row on Canfield Street. Where all the dealers have their shops. Enter the lives of bookscouts, the men who have survived desperate lives, always searching for the big find that will keep them eating. It's a hard game. The big score is as likely as winning the lottery. But when you are caught up in the lure of the hunt, there is always the certain hope the Score is out there. But take it from Sam Spade in the closing lines of "The Maltese Falcon." That Bird is the stuff that dreams are made of. Stuff like that will get you killed. So it's no surprise that a down on his luck bookscout who was in the fix for making a big score turns up dead. Janeway is on the case, and a dog barking up the wrong tree. Janeway's convinced a violent thug named Jackie Newton is offing derelicts in the back streets of Denver. Newton is the type guy who would do things to puppies and kittens that would make the average Joe squirm. Sometimes it's enough to frazzle your last nerve. Janeway steps over the line and steps outside the law to have a reckoning with Newton. Janeway wins the fight, but loses his badge in the process, his face smeared across the pages of the Mile High City papers on charges of police brutality. There's nothing for a cop without a badge to do. Janeway pursues his passion for books by opening his own second hand bookstore. WAIT, WAIT! Second Hand has such negative implications. Janeway has a store catering to those in search of the "Rare" and "Collectable." Meanwhile the trail goes cold on the investigation of that poor bookscout's death. The DPD has too many cases on its plate. Of course, it's up to Janeway to solve the case. Dunning serves up a finely crafted novel that will not only satisfy the mystery fan but the bibliophile. In short, Booked To Die is a treat. This novel works in every way. Plot, Character, Dialogue, and a good dose of knowledge involving the pursuit of the elusive rare book. Imagine what folks would do for a whole library of rare books. In pristine condition. Worth thousands and thousands of Dollars. Yeah. This is the stuff people kill for. Yeah. It's a fever that never cools down. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Read it. Who knows? You might become a Bookman. Like Janeway.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    "Think I'm gonna turn in my badge and become a book dealer," I said. Years before Amazon and eBay made it easy to find rare books, a would-be collector had to comb bookstore after bookstore (and, yes - there were many, many of them ripe for the combing), searching tirelessly for a signed Hemingway, or a rare limited edition of an early Stephen King title. This book, set in the eighties, tells the tale of tough-guy Denver cop, Cliff Janeway, who does indeed trade his badge for a bookstore . . . b "Think I'm gonna turn in my badge and become a book dealer," I said. Years before Amazon and eBay made it easy to find rare books, a would-be collector had to comb bookstore after bookstore (and, yes - there were many, many of them ripe for the combing), searching tirelessly for a signed Hemingway, or a rare limited edition of an early Stephen King title. This book, set in the eighties, tells the tale of tough-guy Denver cop, Cliff Janeway, who does indeed trade his badge for a bookstore . . . but still manages to stay tough, and on the case. I had my doubts about this one: the cutesy title makes it sound like a cozy-mystery, but Dunning's protagonist, and the situations he becomes involved, in are anything but homey. There's some nasty stuff in these pages, and the book is more hard crime than cozy. But, there's also a great introduction to the world of book selling - the way it used to be. I found the descriptions of the priceless books to be every bit as thrilling as the plot. Face it - online retail has really removed the thrill of the hunt, though wonderful, and valuable books are still out there to be found. And, I can't wait to get out there to some thrift stores and yard sales, and start looking. First up - find a copy of the second book in this series . . .

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jack Tripper

    This one's up there with the very best murder mysteries I've read in recent years, and I wish I hadn't repeatedly passed on it while out book-hunting due to the fact that the cover gave off extreme "cozy" vibes to me. The first person narration by Denver homicide detective/rare book-dealer Cliff Janeway is always engaging and witty -- even if he's a bit of a snob -- keeping the story moving at a consistently steady clip throughout. A must for fans of detective stories as well as book-lovers in g This one's up there with the very best murder mysteries I've read in recent years, and I wish I hadn't repeatedly passed on it while out book-hunting due to the fact that the cover gave off extreme "cozy" vibes to me. The first person narration by Denver homicide detective/rare book-dealer Cliff Janeway is always engaging and witty -- even if he's a bit of a snob -- keeping the story moving at a consistently steady clip throughout. A must for fans of detective stories as well as book-lovers in general, as the reader learns a LOT about the ins and outs of the world of book collectors and book scouts during the pre-internet mid-80s.* Which is much more involving -- and interesting -- than it sounds. It really envelopes you in that world. In fact, I enjoyed these parts more than the actual crime aspects. The homicide investigations with their many hardboiled/noir-ish twists and turns are just the cherry on top. Can't wait to get to the rest of the series as word around the campfire is it maintains the same high quality through all five entries. *The novel takes place in 1986 despite being published in 1992.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    This is the story of a dead man, how he got that way, and what happened to some other people because of his death. He was a gentle man, quiet, a human mystery. He had no relatives, no next of kin to notify. He had no close friends, but no enemies either. His cats would miss him. No one could think of a reason why anyone would kill Bobby. Who would murder a harmless man like that? I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll tell you who. John Dunning qualifies as a Goodreads discovery, as I never heard of him befor This is the story of a dead man, how he got that way, and what happened to some other people because of his death. He was a gentle man, quiet, a human mystery. He had no relatives, no next of kin to notify. He had no close friends, but no enemies either. His cats would miss him. No one could think of a reason why anyone would kill Bobby. Who would murder a harmless man like that? I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll tell you who. John Dunning qualifies as a Goodreads discovery, as I never heard of him before joining here, and he turns out to be right up my alley with his slick combination of classic noir tropes and bookworm enthusiasm. The third selling point is location, as I have Denver and the Colorado Mountains higher up in my bucket list than New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, in the event I will someday visit the States. The protagonist of this crime mystery is Cliff Janeway, a tough cop in the Denver Police Department who grew up on the mean streets swinging his fists with the best of the underworld, but who later in life developed a passion for books. Surprisingly, most of his extensive personal library is not for reading : he collects first editions and rare books and derives more pleasure from ownership than from the stories within. It's a strange world we are introduced to : a very competitive business of small shop owners usually on the brink of faliment ('The good, the bad, the ugly') , bookscouts that are only one step ahead of homeless bums, living in poverty and forever hunting for a lucky gold strike in a garage sale or Goodwill pile of old books, buyers who pay top price without delving too deeply into provenance. The victim that starts the police investigation is one such bookscout, found with his head bashed in in a dark alley. No suspect, no clues, nothing but a personal vendetta Cliff Janeway is having with Jackie Newton - a bad apple known to have engaged in random killings in the past. The book has two distinct sections : one the hard-boiled duel of wills between Cliff and Newton, with the obligatory female interest thrown in, and a second one dealing mostly with the book trade and a new set of killings that are apparently related to the first one. I enjoyed both of them, but I consider the book angle as the one that gives particular flavour to what would have been otherwise a standard criminal whodunit. Here's a couple of passages about the joy of reading and about the thrills of hunting for rare books: “We had a lot to talk about, Stan and I. We had been around the world together many times, without ever leaving this block, if you know what I mean.” “I sure do,” I said. “It’s a wonderful hobby.” --- "Every day is like a treasure hunt,” Neff said. “You never know what might walk through that door five minutes from now." Some readers may have been turned off by the long passages discussing how overpriced are the first editions of modern authors (King, Koontz) compared with the classics (Faulkner, Steinbeck) , but I loved how most of the books involved in the case are a homage to the noir masters (Chandler, Hammett, Goodis, Thompson, etc.). I picked up quite a few titles to add to my wishlist from here, and I look forward to track them, maybe in a second hand bookstore like the ones described in the text. Cliff Janeway as a first person narrator is a great voice, passionate and witty in an effortless, casual way, really making me believe it is possible to be both a tough cookie and a bookworm. ( I sat at the phone with a Yellow Pages and began to work. This is what police work is all about: your trigger finger always gets more action on the telephone than in any gunplay. ). At the end of this case I feel confident he is a strong enough character to carry the series forward to new installment, equally thrilling. So, why not go all in and give it five stars? Well, the plot is so clever that it actually strains credibility, and one of my favorite characters draws the short straw. (view spoiler)[ I really loved the young Scott assistant in Cliff Janeway bookstore, and I understand why her death was important in the book economy, but I still wish there was a way for her to remain a charming presence in later books. Secondly, there's a love interest introduced about halfway through that got Cliff to fall head over hills too abruptly, more like a teenager than a middle-aged hardman. And thirdly, the whole mystery swings on one witness withholding information, even as the bodycount grows: Stan's neighbor knew about the book swap between the cheap and the collectible libraries. (hide spoiler)] I believe the book would make a great movie script, with a macho protagonist, a dastardly bad guy, three very interesting female leads, colourful secondary characters and a strong build up of tension. Looking forward to reading the next in the series: There’s nothing wrong with writing detective stories if you do it well enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Col

    Synopsis/blurb..... Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice costs him his badge. Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop - all the while searc Synopsis/blurb..... Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he is an avid collector of rare and first editions. After a local bookscout is killed on his turf, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect's spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway's wrathful brand of off-duty justice costs him his badge. Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop - all the while searching for evidence to put Newton away. But when prized volumes in a highly sought-after collection begin to appear so do dead bodies. Now Janeway's life is about to start a precarious new chapter as he attempts to find out who's dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains. "A knockout... One of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time." - The Denver Post "A standout piece of crime fiction.... Compelling page-turning stuff." - The Philadelphia Inquirer "Irresistible... An outstanding novel." - The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) ------- My take... Booked to Die is the first in John Dunning's series featuring Cliff Janeway. Janeway is a cop, then an ex-cop turned bookshop owner. This one's a fantastic read with lots going on..... a feud between a cop and a psychopath responsible for the deaths of some itinerants, but still a free man - Janeway frustrated by a combination of lack of evidence and some smart lawyers; our cop with a knowledge and a keen interest in books (a subject close to my own heart); a murder in the book world and a further coming together of our two combatants Cliff Janeway and head-case Jackie Newton; resulting in a career change, some new friends, some off the records investigating and an escalation in Janeway and Newton's ongoing private battle. When a book is so enjoyable it's sometimes hard to articulate just exactly what it is that makes it just so memorable. Without being able to do this one justice, we have.... character, pace, story, setting - time frame of 1986 and the locale - Denver and books, bookshops, bookscouts, book dealers, and collectors; a pair of combatants locked in a private battle, each unwilling to yield to the other, one a good guy, one the personification of evil; murder, rape, intimidation, an obsession, a career burned, a field day for the press, a dream turned reality, the book business - the highs and lows, the pitfalls and windfalls, the hunt, the chase, the connections, the rivalries, the friendships, the favours, the optimism......... not forgetting - a murder to solve and some unfinished business with a bit of romance chucked in along the way. One of the front cover blurbs states its a "whodunit in the classic mode." I haven't read enough of these types of books to confirm whether the comparison is apt. I do know that I loved every page of this one. There's fisticuffs, violence and brutality present which may be at odds to the classic whodunit, which suggest a more genteel way of doing things, but they suit the book perfectly and are sporadic occurrences to suit the story, as opposed to a vehicle constantly propelling the tale forward. There are lulls in the action, but the book maintains its drive and momentum. Action blended with thought. Ticks in every box. I'm off to track down the second in this five book series featuring Cliff Janeway. *As an added source of pleasure, my 2001 edition published by Pocket Star Books has an entertaining introduction by the author chatting about his novel and it's early collectability as well as other bits and pieces about books, scarcity and his experience in the field of dealing and collecting. Booked to Die won the Nero Award and was nominated for the 1993 Anthony Award in the "Best Novel" category 5 from 5 Read - November, 2019 Published - 1992 Page count - 432 Source - purchased copy Format - paperback http://col2910.blogspot.com/2019/11/j...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Harry

    John Dunning's Cliff Janeway series ranks among my top favorites in mystery/detective series. When I think of Dunning an inevitable comparison takes place in my little grey cells: if you like Dick Francis you will love John Dunning. Why the comparison? What I often find delightful in fiction is not just the story itself; what delights is the acquisition of knowledge on a particular subject. Dick Francis in addition to handing his readers a well crafted mystery delights his readers with his thoro John Dunning's Cliff Janeway series ranks among my top favorites in mystery/detective series. When I think of Dunning an inevitable comparison takes place in my little grey cells: if you like Dick Francis you will love John Dunning. Why the comparison? What I often find delightful in fiction is not just the story itself; what delights is the acquisition of knowledge on a particular subject. Dick Francis in addition to handing his readers a well crafted mystery delights his readers with his thorough examination of the horse racing world. There is no doubt that when one thinks of horse racing, one thinks of Dick Francis. John Dunning accomplishes the same by delivering to his readers a thorough insider's knowledge of the art of collecting books. When one thinks of antiquarian books; when one thinks of book scouts; when one thinks of avid book collectors, book scams, and book shops across this great nation: one thinks of John Dunning. When one stumbles across a writer who not only delivers a great story but also infuses one with knowledge than this writer has the power to influence one's life personally. For example: it was due to Ayn Rand's novels that my philosophical perspective on the world and my life in it changed. In the case of John Dunning I became engrossed in book collecting: how can one forget an author when my glass encased book cases, filled with signed first editions of my favorite authors, are filled to the brim as a direct result of reading Booked To Die. John Dunning is not a man of the computer age. His is a world of typewriters. He says: "Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter was an honest machine. You did your work, it did its work." Is it any wonder than that his sentences are among the best crafted? No room for mistakes. Syntax, clauses, and style fuse together in a Dunning book with absolute clarity. Dunning is a writer that appeals to the intellect while simultaneously attracting mystery lovers with his behind-the-scenes look at the world of books: the moral and ethical circumstances that drive any great mystery, including death. Cliff Janeway, our hero, is in many ways a reflection of the writer. Here the comparison with Dick Francis continues. Where Francis writes about the Queen's sport (horse racing) as a result of having spent a good deal of his life as a jockey himself, Dunning writes about books as a result of having owned his own book store in Denver. Where Francis writes about the racing world in England where he spent his jockey years, Dunning's protagonist Cliff Janeway, a former cop, owns a book store in Denver as well. The adage that one write "about what one knows" is never more true with these two writers. Francis's heroes are a reflection of the writer himself: in the case of Francis we empathize with a thoroughly honorable, ethical and objective human being and in the case of Dunning we face our own conflicts through a conflicted hero not averse to violence but compelled by a proper moral ethic that guides the hero through his various delimmas. As with Dunning who struggled with ADD, being a poor student, and taking the hard road to his own calling, so does Janeway struggle with authority, with finding his true calling as one reads about a cop turned book collector in the Cliff Janeway novels. And finally I have to wonder about the formula in play here. Did Dunning stumble upon the perfect subject inadvertently or did it come about as a reflection of his own life? Let's face it, what more compelling subject matter for a mystery/detective series could have been chosen than to appeal to the reader himself: it is our love of reading, our love of books that draws us to these pages. And in the case of Dunning, our satisfaction is doubled because what we are reading about is the very thing from which we draw our pleasure: the world of books. As with all my series reviews, if you've read this review of the Cliff Janeway series, you've read 'em all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    I came across this book as part of an assignment for my "Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship" class. The idea was that we should just read something that would give us an idea of the 'tone' of the field--we could read anything that had to do with special collections, rare books, or the antiquarian book trade. Nonfiction, memoir, and...bibliomystery were suggested genres that we could look into when making our selection. Bibliomystery, you say? Awesome. A fast-paced and entirely pleasu I came across this book as part of an assignment for my "Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship" class. The idea was that we should just read something that would give us an idea of the 'tone' of the field--we could read anything that had to do with special collections, rare books, or the antiquarian book trade. Nonfiction, memoir, and...bibliomystery were suggested genres that we could look into when making our selection. Bibliomystery, you say? Awesome. A fast-paced and entirely pleasurable read, Booked to Die introduces Clifford Janeway, a hard-nosed, workaholic (ex-boxer) cop, who feels that he missed his real calling as a rare book store owner. Janeway gets the chance to wear the mantle of "Bookman" after the violent death of a luckless bookscout and escalating tensions with a sadistic thug lose our hero his badge. Dunning (a former bookman himself) keeps its plot moving, while still taking a bit of time to introduce readers to the world of rare books and the people who dedicate their lives to it. With full passages dedicated to explanations of Modern Firsts (including rants on the craze for 1st edition Stephen King and Thomas Harris novels), theories of pricing, AB/Bookman’s Weekly, bookman vocab, and the sad lot of the book scout, Dunning is able to appeal to those familiar with the book world, while possibly creating some converts at the same time. While Dunning's proficiency with noir tropes--the femme fatale, the cheesey one-liners, the vigilante's search for justice--is great fun, Booked to Die also emphasizes something that my professor has been valiantly trying to emphasize to myself and my classmates for two courses now: the profundity of books themselves as beautiful, valuable, and collectable objects. Janeway spends a great deal of time ogling dust jackets and marginalia (notably a Steinbeck doodle of a man with a huge penis inside Travels with Charley, entitled "Tom Joad on the Road"). One of the novel’s climactic moments culminates with the painful destruction of an 1843 edition of John Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in the Yucatán in its original boards. The novel takes very seriously the idea that there is still something inherently sacred about the tangible object of a book, something that people could potentially be driven to even kill for. Great fun for all you crime-novel-loving-librarians. (There's even an ex-librarian in the mix: a sexy, whale-saving, Greenpeace-volunteering, isolationist, now-book-dealer librarian.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrisl

    Quotes from the opening pages: "Bobby the Bookscout was killed at midnight ... "You should know something about bookscouts and the world they go around in. This is an age when almost everyone scouts for books. Doctors and lawyers with six-figure incomes prowl the thrift stores and garage sales, hoping to pick up a treasure for pennies on the dollar. But the real bookscout, the pro, has changed very little in the last thirty years. He's a guy who can't make it in the real world. He operates out of Quotes from the opening pages: "Bobby the Bookscout was killed at midnight ... "You should know something about bookscouts and the world they go around in. This is an age when almost everyone scouts for books. Doctors and lawyers with six-figure incomes prowl the thrift stores and garage sales, hoping to pick up a treasure for pennies on the dollar. But the real bookscout, the pro, has changed very little in the last thirty years. He's a guy who can't make it in the real world. He operates out of the trunk of a car, if he's lucky enough to have a car, out of a knapsack or a bike bag if he isn't. He's an outcast, a fighter, or a man who's been driven out of every other line of work. He can be quiet and humble or aggressive and intimidating. Some are renegades and, yes, there are a few psychos. The one thing the best of them have in common is an eye for books. It's almost spooky, a pessimistic book dealer once said--the nearest thing you can think of to prove the existence of God. How these guys, largely uneducated, many unread, gravitate toward books and inevitably choose the good ones is a prime mystery of human nature. "They get their stock in any dusty corner where books are sold cheap, ten cents to a buck. If they're lucky they'll find $100 worth on any given day, for which an honest book dealer will pay them $30 or $40. They stand their own expenses and may come out of the day $30 to the good. They live for the prospect of the One Good Book, something that'll bring $200 or more. This happens very seldom, but it happens. It happended to Bobby Westfall more often than to all the others put together. "In one seventy-two-hour period, the story goes, Bobby turned up the following startling inventory: Mr. President, the story of the Truman administration, normally a $6 book unless it's signed by Truman, which this was, under an interesting page-long inscription, also in Truman's hand--call it $800 easy; The Recognitions, the great cornerstone of modern fiction (or the great unreadable novel, take your pick) by William Gaddis, also inscribed, $400 retail; The Magus, John Fowles's strange and irresistible book of wonder, first British edition in a flawless jacket, $300; and Terry's Texas Rangers, a thin little book of ninety-odd pages that happens to be a mighty big piece of Texas history, $750. Total retail for the weekend, $2,000 to $2,500; Bobby's wholesale cut, $900, a once-in-a-lifetime series of strikes that people in the Denver book trade still talk about. "If it was that easy, everybody'd be doing it. Usually Bobby Westfall led a bleak, lonely life. He took in cats, never could stand to pass up a homeless kitty. Sometimes he slept in unwashed clothes, and on days when pickings weren't so good, he didn't eat. He spent his $900 quickly and was soon back to basics. He had a ragged appearance and a chronic cough. There were days when he hurt inside: his eyes would go wide and he'd clutch himself, a sudden pain streaking across his insides like a comet tearing up the summer sky. He was thirty-four years old, already an old man at an age when life should just begin. "He didn't drive. He packed his books from place to place on his back, looking for a score and a dealer who'd treat hime right ... An antique dealer would slap $50 on a worthless etiquette book from the 1880s and let a true $150 collectible like Anne Tyler's Celestial Navigation go for a quarter. When that happened, Bobby Westfall would be there with his quarter in hand, with a poker face and a high heart. He'd eat very well tonight. "Like all bookscouts, Bobby could be a pain in the ass. ... None of that mattered now. He was a piece of the Denver book world, part of the landscape, and the trade was a little poorer for his death. "He had been bludgeoned ... found facedown in the alley, about three blocks from the old Denver Post. A cat was curled up at his feet, as if waiting for Bobby to wake up and take her home. ... "No one could think of a reason why anyone would kill Bobby. Who would murder a harmless man like that? "I'll tell you why. Then I'll tell you who." The quotes from the mind of the main character, a literate book loving homicide detective. ** Alongside the Goodreads listing for this book, there are some quotes by the author. I am his age and quite like the following quote, one which provokes many old memories. Typing class taught likely the most significant skill I acquired in high school. In my library years, I preferred the pre-computer days in many ways, though typing catalog cards wasn't a favorite activity. "This may explain my long affection for typewriters," he says. "Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter was an honest machine. You did your work, it did its work. There was no sneaky nonsense, no hidden screens that popped up and wouldn't go away, and at no time in my 35 years as a writer did I ever 'lose' anything because I hit a certain key, failed to hold my mouth right, or sneezed at the wrong moment." ** 2-25-2018 p38 - "Denver is a young man's book town. In the old days there were only two dealers of note ... Those boys died and the book trade fractured into twenty or thirty pieces. The new breed came and the books changed as well. ...What can be found and sold for good money, is modern lit. We live in a day when first editions by Stephen King outsell Mark Twain firsts ten to one, and at the same price. You explain it: I can't Maybe people today really do have more money than brains. Or maybe there's something in the King craze that's going over my head. I read Misery not long ago and thought it was a helluva book. I'd put it right up with The Collector as an example of the horror of abduction, and that's a heavy compliment since I consider Fowles one of the greatest living novelists. Then I read Christine and it was like the book had been written by a different guy. A bigger crock has never been put between two covers. What the hell do I know? I sure can't explain it when a book like Salem's Lot goes from $10 to almost $1,000 in ten years. That's half again what a near-perfect Grapes of Wrath will bring, if you need a point of reference. You can buy five copies of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea for that, or six copies of Thomas Wolfe's Of Time and the River. You can buy first editions signed by Rudyard Kipling or Jack London for less money. So the business has changed, no question about it, and the people in it have changed as well. The old guard is dead: long live the new guard. But I can still remember old Harley Bishop, in the year before he died, stubbornly selling King firsts at half the original cover price. The big leap in King books hadn't yet happened, but even then The Shining was a $100 book. Bishop sold me a copy for $4. When I told him he shoud ask more, he gave me a furrowed look and said, 'I don't believe in Steffan King.'" "Jerry Harkness most definitely did believe in Steffan King. He specialized in King and his followers--Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, et al, the little Kinglets. Behind every big ship you'll find a dozen little ships atrailing. Most of their plots make absolutely no sense, but again, they stand tall where it really matters in today's world, at the damn cash register. There's something seriously wrong with a society when its best-selling writer of all time is Janet Daily. ..." ** "Baseball books are wonderful ... Football books are a waste of paper. For some reason baseball fans read and football fans drink beer and raise hell. Basketball sucks ... But always buy golf books, any damn golf book that comes through the door will sell. Buy anything on horses or auto racing. Buy billiards and chess, the older the better, but don't ever buy a bowling book." ** "My sense of humore was lost on her. 'This is very nice stuff,' she said without a hint of a smile. "'Thank you,' I said. "'You must've been putting it away for a long time.' "I didn't say anything. "'You have very good taste.' "'For a cop,' I said. I grinned to blunt the mockery and turned my palms up. "'I guess it proves that a good bookman can come from anywhere. Even a librarian has a chance.' "'You don't like librarians?' "'I used to be one. They're the world's worst enemies of good books. Other than that, they're fine people.' **

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    One day, I went to the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair. One day, many years ago, I wandered around the booths of rare books. Snotty, they were all snotty. I am referring to the bookmen and bookwomen, but perhaps all those pristine first editions were a bit snotty, too. Suddenly, the room came to life! John Dunning was in the house! It was as if the pope had come into the merchandise mart. People there were star struck, in awe of his presence. And then a very bored looking man with nary a smile One day, I went to the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair. One day, many years ago, I wandered around the booths of rare books. Snotty, they were all snotty. I am referring to the bookmen and bookwomen, but perhaps all those pristine first editions were a bit snotty, too. Suddenly, the room came to life! John Dunning was in the house! It was as if the pope had come into the merchandise mart. People there were star struck, in awe of his presence. And then a very bored looking man with nary a smile came in, sat, and proceeded to sign autographs. He looked so unfriendly, I swore I'd never read his books. I didn't know at the time. of course, that he had hosted an Old Time Radio program for 25 years that my dad listened to religiously. I didn't know my mom liked his mysteries. I fear I may have misjudged the man. I picked up - used - his Cliff Janeway series, all but book one. I finally found the first one at the library so I thought I'd dive in. And I was pleasantly surprised. This is a pretty good mystery. It's not really my genre, but this book did not turn silly or go where it needn't go. It was good. I loved revisiting Denver circa 1986. I miss that Denver. That really was half the charm of this story. I am going to continue on; after all, I've got the rest of the books on my shelf. Cop turned bookstore owner. Dang it. I miss bookstores, too. Makes me wonder if what I have now in Denver will disappear and become nothing but a fond memory someday. Hmmm. Is Starbucks going anywhere? And the Jeffco whale of a book sale? Hope not!

  10. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Very decent detective novel set in the used book trade. Interesting setup and structure overlaying a couple of secondary plotlines over a fairly uncomplicated murder plot. As ever with a first person narration a lot depends on the POV character, and this one is the usual loner detective tough as nails doesn't play by the book etc, but at least he isn't an alcoholic with an embittered ex wife, so that's something. The used book element adds a lot of interest. What sucked, enormously, was the trea Very decent detective novel set in the used book trade. Interesting setup and structure overlaying a couple of secondary plotlines over a fairly uncomplicated murder plot. As ever with a first person narration a lot depends on the POV character, and this one is the usual loner detective tough as nails doesn't play by the book etc, but at least he isn't an alcoholic with an embittered ex wife, so that's something. The used book element adds a lot of interest. What sucked, enormously, was the treatment of a secondary female character who is raped, beaten, stalked and put in fear of her life by the Plot 2 villain, and then spends the rest of the book being treated as the antagonist because she's afraid to testify against him when she's been told, in so many words, that the police can't guarantee to protect her. This apparently makes her a weak coward in the eyes of the (male) lawyer who thinks she ought to get on the stand to protect a policeman who beat a suspect half to death--his well being is, natch, much more important than hers, because of the decision he made to commit a violent crime on her behalf. And apparently we're meant to read the narrator's marginally greater sympathy as a sign of his underlying chivalry rather than e.g basic human empathy for someone who's been violently traumatised on an ongoing basis. I get this book was written in 1992 but, you know, women were humans in 1992 as well. Eh. Other than that (Mrs Lincoln) it was pretty good but I may have to trawl reviews before I try another because I'm too old for this shit.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane Challenor

    Fantastic read! Not too fast, not too slow; the story was just right (for me). I’d call it a mystery (not a thriller - thank goodness), with lots of spills and a couple of thrills. There were at least two moments when I gasped and thought “Oh my God, NO! And another moment when I laughed out loud, chuckling about the dialogue for a while afterward. I won’t share specifically what these moments were, because I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment. “Booked to Die” is well plotted, demonstrating r Fantastic read! Not too fast, not too slow; the story was just right (for me). I’d call it a mystery (not a thriller - thank goodness), with lots of spills and a couple of thrills. There were at least two moments when I gasped and thought “Oh my God, NO! And another moment when I laughed out loud, chuckling about the dialogue for a while afterward. I won’t share specifically what these moments were, because I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment. “Booked to Die” is well plotted, demonstrating really good writing, with an interesting backdrop of the rare-books trade. I just loved Cliff Janeway, the main character. I’ll be reading the next one, “The Bookman’s Wake”, immediately. Well done Mr Dunning; thank you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    I've always wondered whether authors ever get "competitive" to the point of being catty. This book might have answered that question but it's kind of funny in a way that I expected it from a female author and obviously John isn't a woman's name. Okay, I'm stereotyping but ... work with me here, k? I picked this book up partly because it's a mystery crime, partly because it's cheap (think I got it for 30php on a second-hand book shop) and partly (but also mostly) because it's a book about books (a I've always wondered whether authors ever get "competitive" to the point of being catty. This book might have answered that question but it's kind of funny in a way that I expected it from a female author and obviously John isn't a woman's name. Okay, I'm stereotyping but ... work with me here, k? I picked this book up partly because it's a mystery crime, partly because it's cheap (think I got it for 30php on a second-hand book shop) and partly (but also mostly) because it's a book about books (and I later realized book scouts who I didn't know exists). This edition has a foreword of some sort from the author himself. I didn't read the whole thing but gist is that he was talking about book scouts and about how he himself is one, etc. Let's just say that it gives us (or at least me) an inkling that the author put a LOT of his personality in this book (maybe even the whole series). That being said, I would say that the author is a book snob. Nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying. Lol. It was funny how the character would say he wouldn't pick up a book by so and so or how so and so's books are a dime a dozen compared to so and so. I guess when writing something you always put yourselves on whatever it is but what I'm trying to say is that this is based in a world that he (used to?) live in so he already knows how things work and only has to do (maybe) a little research. So ... yeah, he put a lot of himself in it. I had to chuckle when one of the characters mentioned how Stephen King is too nice he always builds up other authors and their books but never his own. Lol. Story-wise, I think the world Mr Dunning created using this series is an interesting one. One that book lovers *coughhoarderscough* like me would like to live in-- if you take away the murder parts. Lol. In general, I liked this first book of the series and I might even hunt down the rest of them. I only gave 3 stars, however, because I couldn't ... feel ... for the character Janeway and it's not because he's a guy. I liked that he's a book man, I liked that he's persistent as an investigator ... I don't know if I like to know him more than that. I particularly didn't care about his involvement with that woman (please read the book as I do not want to say more in case it's a spoiler), it's like it was put there for the Hollywood effect. There has to be a leading lady of some sort. I don't know if I like his personality and most people need to "like" another person for them to follow-up on said person, right? I guess I'm "most people" in that regard. He is arrogant, yes but what protagonist isn't? You wouldn't want to read about a meek character. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that there is something off about the character but I can't place it lol. So yeah, overall this is an interesting read for book lovers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    Putting this on my "read" shelf is a misnomer because I only listened to 2 of the 12 hours of audio before giving up. I thought this series would be a perfect fit because it's a mystery series with a theme of book buying/selling/dealing and it takes place in Denver, a favorite city. The protagonist, Cliff Janeway, is a homicide cop with a penchant for collecting books. TMI! Too much of the book was spent explaining and standing on a soap-box about book collecting. There was even a line in here w Putting this on my "read" shelf is a misnomer because I only listened to 2 of the 12 hours of audio before giving up. I thought this series would be a perfect fit because it's a mystery series with a theme of book buying/selling/dealing and it takes place in Denver, a favorite city. The protagonist, Cliff Janeway, is a homicide cop with a penchant for collecting books. TMI! Too much of the book was spent explaining and standing on a soap-box about book collecting. There was even a line in here where Cliff says something like "you might say I'm standing on a soap-box about this." Yeah, I did. Wasn't interested in any of the characters or the murder mystery and didn't feel it was particularly well-written. Oh, and it didn't help that the narrator was a fave, George Guidall, who narrates the fabulous Sheriff Longmire series. Made the contrast that much more stark. Disappointed!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Mclaren

    Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway lets his personal feelings drive him and it costs him his job. But his passion also helps him create a new career: that of a rare book dealer. And because he's like a bulldog, he can't stop thinking of the case he was working on when he spiraled out of the force. He continues to follow and get involved in the case that seemingly is leading him deeper into the quagmire. I don't like Cliff Janeway as a character -- I think he is a bit cold, a bit sadistic and Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway lets his personal feelings drive him and it costs him his job. But his passion also helps him create a new career: that of a rare book dealer. And because he's like a bulldog, he can't stop thinking of the case he was working on when he spiraled out of the force. He continues to follow and get involved in the case that seemingly is leading him deeper into the quagmire. I don't like Cliff Janeway as a character -- I think he is a bit cold, a bit sadistic and a lot selfish -- and it has colored my whole opinion of this book. I didn't always like the dialogue either, it didn't quite feel right, and therefore, I can't really recommend this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    A revisit of book I read long ago. I was looking for something I knew I liked with the intention of revisiting a series, but I think just this first one is enough to show me that I don't enjoy re-reading books that have stayed in my memory. I guess I read this long before I started checking off books as "read" in goodreads. Elements include rare book values and the business side of dealing in them, Janeway as cop as well as a romancer on top of running his own bookstore. It is a good series. Librar A revisit of book I read long ago. I was looking for something I knew I liked with the intention of revisiting a series, but I think just this first one is enough to show me that I don't enjoy re-reading books that have stayed in my memory. I guess I read this long before I started checking off books as "read" in goodreads. Elements include rare book values and the business side of dealing in them, Janeway as cop as well as a romancer on top of running his own bookstore. It is a good series. Library Loan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I read this book just as I started working in a bookstore that buys used books - and it was one of those books that syncs up with your life and you have to appreciate it. I loved that the thoughts of the author on used books and rare first editions (etc..) were the same things that were being taught to me out on the sales floor. Sadly there was no exciting murder mystery at my job so I had to rely on Cliff Janeway's excitement when the day was done. I read this book just as I started working in a bookstore that buys used books - and it was one of those books that syncs up with your life and you have to appreciate it. I loved that the thoughts of the author on used books and rare first editions (etc..) were the same things that were being taught to me out on the sales floor. Sadly there was no exciting murder mystery at my job so I had to rely on Cliff Janeway's excitement when the day was done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    mark

    The book business; Denver & Evergreen, Colorado; Love at first sight; Lying; and good writng: all reasons I liked this novel. AND, I was intrigued by the fact the females were the real hereos despite the first person narative by a tough, macho, no-nonsense homicide detective. I wonder if the author even knew what he did?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Will Errickson

    This was pretty great: a solid murder mystery/detective novel that is also a book collector’s delight. I was working bookstores in the mid ‘90s and it was always popular among the real bibliophiles. But for some reason I never got around to reading it till now—whyyy didn’t I read it back then?! I’d have been recommending this book for 25 years!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kalen

    So, apparently I read this in 2010 but don't recall it except that Rita's character seemed really familiar. This is a solid whodunit and a fun peek back at old Denver when you could buy a house in Congress Park for $50,000. So, apparently I read this in 2010 but don't recall it except that Rita's character seemed really familiar. This is a solid whodunit and a fun peek back at old Denver when you could buy a house in Congress Park for $50,000.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    "Booked to Die" by John Dunning. I had read several of Dunning's books in the Cliff Janeway series before reading this first in the series. This story introduces us to Cliff Janeway. A police detective with a determination to find the truth...to sort out all reasons that lead to the one and only answer. Janeway, Dr. J., worked with Hennessey another detective in the dept. They go back a long way and had each others back, but often Janeway pushed it a little too far for Hennessey. Hennessey tried t "Booked to Die" by John Dunning. I had read several of Dunning's books in the Cliff Janeway series before reading this first in the series. This story introduces us to Cliff Janeway. A police detective with a determination to find the truth...to sort out all reasons that lead to the one and only answer. Janeway, Dr. J., worked with Hennessey another detective in the dept. They go back a long way and had each others back, but often Janeway pushed it a little too far for Hennessey. Hennessey tried to draw the line to Janeway's methods, mostly unorthodox, to no avail. Janeway has a love of books not just to buy at the bookstore or check out at the library...but a love of the unattainable books. That love was in his blood coursing through his veins every minute of every hour of everyday. Then he was assigned to investigate a murder. The murder of a bookscout, Bobby Westfall. A world is opened to us as we read of a family. A family of book lovers such as Janeway. This family is made up of book store owners, bookscouts, book collectors and Janeway. I loved this book and consider it a MUST READ. Janeway's life is divided into 2 parts. Janeway the detective and Janeway the book seller/collector/lover. Can they ever be separated? To find the answer you MUST read this book. I cannot recommend it more highly than to repeat this is a MUST read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    Okay, as a criminal defense attorney I tend to avoid crime novels as being too silly and unrealistic. Dunning's bookman series books are certainly not real crime narratives but they are interesting and well written. What hooked me, however, was not the mysteries but the insight into the world of bookmen. As a result of these books I have become fascinated with collecting books on a small and personal scale. If an author can introduce you to a new world and alter your life as a result doesn't tha Okay, as a criminal defense attorney I tend to avoid crime novels as being too silly and unrealistic. Dunning's bookman series books are certainly not real crime narratives but they are interesting and well written. What hooked me, however, was not the mysteries but the insight into the world of bookmen. As a result of these books I have become fascinated with collecting books on a small and personal scale. If an author can introduce you to a new world and alter your life as a result doesn't that make him successful?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A fantastic mystery...only a small number in its first printing (if you find a first edition hang on to it...worth a pile of money). This book is for anyone who adores books with their mystery.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    I read this when it first came out and loved it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Loraine

    This book had a really good premise, but unfortunately was spoiled with way too many profanities. I stopped after two chapters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Dunsky

    Cliff Janeway is a Denver homicide police detective who is also a book collector. He's tough, strong, and has a firm sense of justice and the willingness to not play by the rules in order to see it done. When a book scout called Bobby is found dead in an alley, Janeway notices that the murder is similar to a string of other homicides that have plagued Denver over the previous few years. Janeway knows who committed those murders. It was a lowlife thug called Jackie Newton whom Janeway has been try Cliff Janeway is a Denver homicide police detective who is also a book collector. He's tough, strong, and has a firm sense of justice and the willingness to not play by the rules in order to see it done. When a book scout called Bobby is found dead in an alley, Janeway notices that the murder is similar to a string of other homicides that have plagued Denver over the previous few years. Janeway knows who committed those murders. It was a lowlife thug called Jackie Newton whom Janeway has been trying to put away without success. Newton is Janeway's nemesis, he's the guy who inhabits Janeway's dreams. Janeway wants nothing more than to pin this new murder on Newton and to finally see him locked up for good, but there are a few things about this killing that don't fit the others. The murder victim is a book scout, a guy who hunts for valuable books in thrift shops and other locations in order to sell them to book dealers. Janeway is no stranger to the book world, being a collector himself, and so he begins to investigate this murder with the idea that Bobby the book scout may have found some literary masterpiece or a collection of valuable books and that is what got him killed. The investigation takes Janeway and the reader into the world of dealers in fine books. It is fascinating, especially for book lovers, even those who don't collect them but just enjoy reading them. It is a world in which a first edition may bring a hundred dollars today and $500 a month from now. It is a world in which one ink mark on an otherwise pristine volume can bring down the price by half or more. And it is a world in which dealers and book scouts hunt for books as others hunt for hidden treasure. In his preface to the book, the author, John Dunning, wrote about how Booked To Die was published after ten years in which he hadn't written a book because he was disappointed with the mediocre sales of his previous novels. In the interim, he and his wife opened a high-end book dealership in Denver, which is how he became so knowledgeable in the field of fine books. Booked To Die became an almost instantaneous success story, surprising its author more than anyone else. It also surprised me. I do not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did and I'm grateful for John Dunning for having written it. It is one of the best novels I've read in 2017. This novel is extremely well-written, intelligent, engrossing, and suspenseful. The mystery element is also very well done. I did not guess who the murderer was until the very end. This is a gem of a novel. If you're into mysteries of any kind, do yourself a favor and pick up this novel. I'm now reading the second novel in the Cliff Janeway series, and so far it is every bit as good as its predecessor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    4.5 stars! I really enjoyed this older whodunit. It’s very original and is based on book dealers and bookshops. The humor was subtle and if you weren’t paying close attention you might miss it. Can’t wait to continue on in the series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I like books. I like to read books. I like to own books. Nowadays I like to have books read to me by skilled narrators like George Guidall. I have trouble understanding why anyone would want to have a book just because it’s worth money – a classic, rare, or a first edition. That they couldn’t crack open and read because it would decrease the value. To me, the value of a book is in the reading of it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book about people who will kill for a book, or books. It was a good I like books. I like to read books. I like to own books. Nowadays I like to have books read to me by skilled narrators like George Guidall. I have trouble understanding why anyone would want to have a book just because it’s worth money – a classic, rare, or a first edition. That they couldn’t crack open and read because it would decrease the value. To me, the value of a book is in the reading of it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book about people who will kill for a book, or books. It was a good mystery with interesting and unusual characters and I enjoyed the discussions of books even if it sometimes seemed to go on a little too long.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karsyn

    Meh. I didn't like the elitist attitude of the MC when it comes to books, though I found it pretty ironic that he himself is the star of the 'crappy' books he despised. The whole book didn't sit well with me. The characters were flat, the side story of Newton was just fodder and had nothing to do with the rest. It was just meh. Wouldn't read more and only read this one for a challenge. Meh. I didn't like the elitist attitude of the MC when it comes to books, though I found it pretty ironic that he himself is the star of the 'crappy' books he despised. The whole book didn't sit well with me. The characters were flat, the side story of Newton was just fodder and had nothing to do with the rest. It was just meh. Wouldn't read more and only read this one for a challenge.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel {bibliopals}

    The beginning was a little slow, but then it picked up like a good mystery should. A few more "f" bombs than wanted, but a good book. The beginning was a little slow, but then it picked up like a good mystery should. A few more "f" bombs than wanted, but a good book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicolle

    Books, crime, sleuthing, and more books. I couldn't imagine better ingredients for a great book. I never realized the value books could have beyond the enjoyment I get from reading them. Looking forward to what's to come in this series. Books, crime, sleuthing, and more books. I couldn't imagine better ingredients for a great book. I never realized the value books could have beyond the enjoyment I get from reading them. Looking forward to what's to come in this series.

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