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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booked To Win!
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...
Published on April 10, 2004 by H. F. Corbin

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, informative, suspensful
After several years of thinking about it, I finally jumped into a Cliff Janeway mystery novel and enjoyed the experience. First a policeman with a love for book collecting then a book collector with a love for police work, Booked to Die and its hero Cliff Janeway combine story-telling adventure with mystery and detective suspense. The book reads like a typical mystery...
Published on December 12, 2009 by Robert Tucker


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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booked To Win!, April 10, 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Bibliomystery, May 10, 2002
This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written mystery should appeal to book lovers, March 12, 2001
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This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Great first novel in the series!, January 21, 2002
This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (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. If they didn't, it wouldn't be a mystery novel.

Where Dunning excels here is in the balance ebtween the book talk and the mystery talk. Separating the two out would make for a passable novel about the book trade (think Penelope Fitzgerald's The Bookshop as told by Mike Hammer) and a passable mystery novel (think My Gun Is Quick as told by Penelope Fitzgerald). Neither side suffers from the inclusion of the other, something which is rare indeed among novels that attempt to blend two such disparate streams of thought. Add to this Dunning's eye for detail-- the only stones that remain unturned are those necessary to set up the idea that these characters will continue on into other novels (a second Janeway novel, The Bookman's Wake, has already been published)-- and you've got a fun little read. It's not earthshaking, it doesn't break any new ground, and it's a niche. More people remember Agatha Christie than Christopher Morley, too, but that doesn't make Morley's books any less wonderful. As Morley, so Dunning. Highly recommended for those who find themselves in the first paragraph of this review. *** 1/2
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid mystery, February 19, 2001
By 
Old Fisherman "Jim" (Orange, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, informative, suspensful, December 12, 2009
This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
After several years of thinking about it, I finally jumped into a Cliff Janeway mystery novel and enjoyed the experience. First a policeman with a love for book collecting then a book collector with a love for police work, Booked to Die and its hero Cliff Janeway combine story-telling adventure with mystery and detective suspense. The book reads like a typical mystery with engaging moments of violence, curiosity, entertainment and discovery. Using the overriding theme of searching for rare books plus an ongoing feud between a thug and a police officer, Booked to Die weaves human failings and obsession with books with a world where intrigue, history, and love of books come together.

A murder of a book scout appears to be suspiciously similar to murders of derelicts that have occurred in the past. Yet a further look seems to point to some sort of cover up of a rare book collection. Cliff Janeway, under the guise of protecting a frightened client, loses his position with the police force and proceeds to open his own bookshop. When a fellow book scout and his own worker lose their life, he enters the fray again, hoping to uncover the cause of the murders. In the process he again encounters his old enemy, learns more about book collecting, falls in love, and puts together a conspiracy developed by greedy people intent on selling rare books. Janeway, an intellectual hero-type with a dedicated work ethic, pursues the truth all the way to the end.

The tips on book collecting are quite worthwhile as are the asides on various values of books. Shining forth are the avid book collector's obsession with books and the hypnotic transformation that occurs around certain kinds of books. This makes for an informative story and something unique to the genre. Yet somehow the lack of character depth, thorough descriptions of people, and stories that do not seem to serve the overall plot, give the book a superficial quality that almost seems predictable. Smooth writing, realistic dialog, book collecting perceptions, and exciting events that could happen make up for what is essentially a typical well-written mystery. Enjoyable for sure, and certainly recommended, but not overly profound.

Onward to further books by John Dunning. A respectable author indeed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The First Janeway Is the Best, April 26, 2005
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This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read the first three books in Dunning's Cliff Janeway series, beginning with the third book, "The Bookman's Promise," which I loved. I decided to go back and start with the first book, "Booked to Die," and then move on to "The Bookman's Wake." The first two are definitely better than "The Bookman's Promise," but all three are wonderful. I should confess that like many other reviewers, I'm intrigued by the whole rare book milieu. For those of us who love used and rare bookstores, Dunning's books are pure heaven -- steeped in atmosphere and filled with surprising characters. The book lore is fascinating; I kept looking up from "Booked to Die" to peruse my bookshelves, hoping to find a lost treasure. I have kids to put through college! No such luck. Back to reading.

So what makes "Booked to Die" better than the others? The tightness of the plot. I swear that at the end of the book, you could hear the pieces of the puzzle lock into place. The details are flawless -- and I don't often see that in mysteries. I cannot stand lose ends or weird, implausible explanations.

I gave this book 4 starts because the entire Jackie Newton plotline seemed contrived. I just didn't find him believeable as a brutal serial killer. However, the main plot was so good that I could not put the book down -- even though I was sick and my eyes were watering from a terrible cold!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining, excellent mystery, December 4, 2001
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This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
In this story we are introduced to a tough homicide detective named Cliff Janeway. Cliff also has a soft side -- the side of him that has a passion for the printed word and collectible books. The story opens with an investigation of the murder of a Denver bookscout (a person who finds treasure at resale shops and Salvation Army stores, among other places, & sells it to used collectible book dealers). Cliff suspects a vicious criminal that he has been after for years, Jackie Newton. Cliff and Jackie enter a spiral that changes their lives forever. However, nothing in this book is quite as it seems .... one important part of the mystery isn't solved until the very last page!

The author made his characters thoroughly believable & thoroughly likeable. Mixed into this well written mystery are details about collectible books woven skillfully into the story.

A friend loaned me the paperback and I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I ordered the hardcover available on Amazon -- the book is that good! Buy it, if you love books as much as I do, you'll really enjoy and treasure this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A real find", January 3, 2001
By 
Ray Grubman (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
Rarely have I been so captivated by a book. I read most of the popular stuff in the mystery/suspense/crime genre, and this book blew me away! Upon finishing it I immediately called my bookstore to see if it stocked the sequel, "The Bookman's Wake".
The main character, Cliff Janeway, is a homicide detective whose hobby is collecting rare books. The reader is introduced to the world of rare book dealers, and gives interesting insights into how and why today's - and yesterday's - books are sought after. Why is a first edition by Stephen King or Thomas Harris worth almost as much as one by Hemingway or Steinbeck? This is fascinating stuff for the reader who loves books. This is one of those jewels that you run across maybe once overy year or two, and say WOW.
If it's not obvious, I LOVED THIS BOOK.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really fun read, June 3, 2000
I love mysteries, but there are so few that have solidity from beginning to end. Here, the hypnotic (and more) effect that book-collecting has on the characters is shown - in fact my first foray this morning was into the local thrift shops to see if I could find any jewels (not!). I'm not a book collector, but I loved all the details about book collecting -- whether they were true or not, they were convincingly told, and fun to read.The dialogue was snappy and clear, and there were few wasted words. This was a page-turner through to the end.
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Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels)
Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) by John Dunning (Mass Market Paperback - January 1, 2001)
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