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Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Denver cop and rare book collector Cliff Janeway is introduced in this engrossing whodunit from two-time Edgar nominee Dunning.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Dunning, twice nominated for the Edgar (a pair of paperbacks), deserves to win one for this Denver cop-turned-bookman tale--a lively, seductive primer on how to open a bookstore, spot a first edition, warehouse it, price it, and enjoy it for its own sake. Cliff Janeway quits the force when he is suspended pending the outcome of brutality charges brought by his nemesis, Jackie Newton. Long a collector and frequenter of Denver's Book Row, Janeway rents space, hires the charmingly efficient Miss Pride as his assistant, and opens Twice Told Books. And, on his own time, works on a case that the Denver force has no leads on: the murder of book scout Bobby Westfall. As Janeway goes deeper and deeper into the book business, he manages to pinpoint Bobby's last day--the book dealers he sold to, the collector he bought from, and the big score he was double-crossed out of. Then a book-scout friend of Bobby's and the estimable Miss Pride are executed at Twice Told Books, and Janeway ups his investigative pace, which involves meetings (and romance) with a highly secretive rare-book dealer; scrutiny of a collection appraisal; and schmoozing with the owners along Book Row, until an alibi, like some book spines, cracks. Janeway, who can be tough, sensitive, and passionate, is a credible hero, both as cop and as book-lover. Moreover, the mystery holds its own with the atmospherics. Happily for fans, Dunning, a rare-book dealer himself, plans further Janeway books. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cliff Janeway Novels
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Mass Paperback Edition edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743410653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743410656
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Although I have been writing fiction since childhood (and publishing novels since 1975), it was BOOKED TO DIE (1992) that gave me the freedom to write full time. I have always written out of my own life. My Bookman novels came from my ongoing experience in the used and rare book trade, coupled with my life as a Denver Post police reporter in the 1970s. I have written five novels about my book detective, Cliff Janeway, including THE BOOKWOMAN'S LAST FLING, to be published by Scribner in May 2006.

We have lived in Denver, it seems, forever, though I am a refugee from Charleston, SC. I have also been a glass cutter, a groom at Santa Anita and other racetracks, a publicist for political candidates (which is the same general thing)and did a radio show for more than 20 years.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Cliff Janeway starts out as a Denver cop who loves books and winds up in this page-turner as an owner of a rare bookstore who doesn't forget his policing skills. The murders here all have to do with people in the book collecting business so booklovers get a double treat here. Although they are treated to a first class mystery, just as important is page after page of valuable information about collecting first editions. Ms. McKinley, whom Janeway has the hots for, remarks that when you buy "something unique, and pay twice what it's worth, it's a great bargain." And one of my favorite passages is about the worth of a good book. Ruby, a store-owner says: "A book has always cost about what a meal in a good restaurant costs. . . I get sick of hearing how expensive books are. Which would you rather have, a good book or a tender steak? I know what I'd take, seven days a week." I do not know one book lover who would disagree with that statement.
Mr. Dunning wastes no time in weighing in on the ongoing debate of "popular" fiction (Stephen King novels) versus the works of writers like Faulkner and Hemingway. (Remember the controversy over King's being given an award at last year's National Book Award Awards?) Janeway opines: "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 neeed a point of reference."
Oh, back to the story-- the plot twists and turns with surprise after surprise, right up to the last sentence of the novel.
I believe this one is a collectible.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on May 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is a lot of talk among bibliophiles about this book and its subject matter. Rare books and their values are instrumental in its plot. What they leave out, however, is that this is a cracker of a good mystery.
Cliff Janeway is a cop with a problem. He knows who is pulling a string of derelict murders--his old nemesis Jackie Newton--but he can't pin the crimes on him. Up comes a new victim, a local bookscout that Janeway recognized from the street, and Janeway thinks he has Newton cold--except that Newton has an alibi in one Barbara Crowell, who was with him from 3:00 the previous afternoon.
To say much more would give too much away. But this is definitely a mystery worth reading. All the information on the book world is simply a bonus for bibliophiles.
Janeway is a very interesting character--a cop, and a book lover. The author also owned a book shop for ten years and still runs a first-edition-only business from his home.
I would recommend this book to people interested in books, but also to anyone who likes a good mystery. For once, I was satisfied with an ending.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 12, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Dunning crafts an intriguing plot set in the world of used and rare books. His characters are quickly three dimensional, the dialogue is realistic, and the mystery is genuinely puzzling. The protagonist is a homicide detective on the Denver Police Department -- at least for a while -- and is immediately sympathetic and complex.
I thought the ending was a bit jumbled, but eventually all strings are tied up. This is a worthwhile read, and should be particularly interesting to book aficionados or those familiar with Denver.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 21, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Dunning, Booked to Die (Pocket, 1992)

This book's probably got a niche market in the same way that Christopher Morley's wonderful turn-of-the-century bookstore-themed mysteries did. You're going to get a lot more out of this book if you've ever trod the bibliophile's path yourself, or at least have some other kind of collecting bug in your bonnet. Otherwise, you might do well to avoid this one.

Okay, now that we've got rid of the riffraff, let's get down to brass tacks. This is a great little mystery that introduces us to Cliff Janeway, a Colorado cop who dreams of retiring from the force and opening his own rare bookstore. It doesn't matter that every other shop on the street where he wants to open his is a rare bookstore; competition doesn't apply to the types of folks who frequent rare bookstores. After all, most every copy of a rare book is different, and this gang is usually looking for that one specific typo that sets edition A apart from edition B and wants printing X; so many variables everyone's bound to hve different stock. But Janeway's bookstore dreams are a background to the novel, which is above all a mystery. There are two plotlines here. The first concerns the murder of a bookscout, onje of that class just up from the homeless who make their living buying books at Goodwill and selling them to people who know what they're worth. The second concerns a rather nasty person that Janeway's been trying to nab for years. Due to the American system of justice, the guy keeps evading capture. Everyone else in the novel wants to combine the two; they're convinced the nasty type did in the bookscout, and everyone's happy. Everyone, that is, except our fearless narrator. Things get out of hand. Complications ensue.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Old Fisherman on February 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cliff Janeway is a Denver homocide detective. When bookscout Bobby Westfall turns up beaten to death in a Denver alley Janeway's first thought is that it's Jackie Newton doing the killing again. Newton just barely beat the rap on a series of similar killings but Janeway is still after the man, but perhaps too zealously. Janeway and Newton eventually tangle, but it costs Janeway his job. Now a civilan, Janeway once again finds himself embroiled in the Westfall case but this time he may be the killer's next target.
Mr. Dunning is a fine writer. His characters are well done, the plotting is believable, and his dialog is right on. It's also obvious that he knows about books. I found this mystery to be very well done with the killer's identity a mystery right up until the very end. In today's market of mediocre mysteries this book and Mr. Dunnings "The Bookman's Wake" stand out. I'd recommend them.
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