Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dunning, John. The bookman's wake.New York: Pocket Star, 1996. 432pp.

This is the second in John Dunning's Cliff Janeway series of detective novels. The first, Booked to die, was published in 1992 and this one came a couple of years later in 1995. Then there was a longish gap in the publishing until The bookman's promise in 2004. They've been a steady one per year since then. I read the first a number of years ago then put the series aside until the recent spate of new books led me to take a look at the second in the series.

It's a pretty mainstream detective series -- the loner ex-cop gets involved in a bunch of crimes while sort of trying to stay away from his old life and sort of still drawn to it. Not generally the kind of thing that interests me that much and normally I probably wouldn't bother with this series. Except for one thing: it's set in the rare book world. After Janeway left the police force he became a rare book dealer in Denver and all the books somehow involve a murder that's connected with that world. That's what attracts me to this series and, so far, it works. This novel involves a mysterious young women who has a connection to a highly collectable printer who died mysteriously in the late 1960s. She's involved in a breaking and entering and murder in Seattle and a shady ex-cop sends Janeway their to take her back to Denver. Murder and mayhem ensue and all the various familial mysteries are solved at the end. Like I said, pretty mainstream but for me the insights into the book world make it all worthwhile.

In fact, it should be interesting to read the next in the series, published in 2004, to get Janeway's take on what the internet has done to the rare book world and how the collectable markets in general have been affected.



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