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The Bookwoman's Last Fling: A Cliff Janeway Novel (Cliff Janeway Novels Book 5) by [Dunning, John]
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The Bookwoman's Last Fling: A Cliff Janeway Novel (Cliff Janeway Novels Book 5) Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller Dunning scores another triumph with his fifth mystery (after 2005's The Sign of the Book) to feature Cliff Janeway, a former homicide detective who has found a second career as an antiquarian book dealer but who hasn't quite lost his taste for police work. Janeway receives an invitation from wealthy horse trainer H.R. Geiger to come to Idaho to appraise his book collection, but by the time Janeway arrives, his host is dead. He winds up tracking down some rare volumes that have vanished and probing the decades-old death of Geiger's wife, a wealthy heiress who collected valuable juvenile fiction. When a fresh body turns up and Janeway himself almost falls victim to a killer, the bibliophile detective finds that his decision to pursue the truth puts him at odds with his longstanding significant other. Dunning's exceptional gifts at plotting and characterization should help win him many new readers, while the horse-racing angle is sure to lure Dick Francis fans. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

John Dunning knows the horse and book worlds well. Before writing his first book, he worked for horse trainers in Denver, Idaho, and California, and he ran the Old Algonquin Bookstore in Denver. The Bookman's Last Fling offers a smart, authentic look into both worlds. Janeway, agreeably misanthropic as always, complements a cast of complex, fascinating characters, local color, and solid dialogue. Critics noted, however, an awkward plot mired by unoriginal details, which diminishes the force of the mystery. While equestrian fans will enjoy this thriller, Dunning's regular bibliophile base may want to wait for the next ride.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 750 KB
  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1476788898
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 23, 2006)
  • Publication Date: May 9, 2006
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000GCFXJ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,471 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. E. Cantrell on July 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The following exchange between Cliff Janeway and Erin, his significant other, takes place near the end of "The Bookwoman's Last Fling." Erin speaks first:

"This is probably not something we want to do on the phone," she said. "But we do need to talk.... Oh, it's the same old stuff. We made some big and glorious plans for our life together in books. I still think it would be a great life, except for one thing. You don't really want it. It took me a while to understand that."

I didn't know what to say, probably because I was afraid she was right....

"What you really want is to be a cop again," she said.

"Well, you don't have to worry about that. It'll never happen."

"Oh, my dear, it has [italicized] happened. You're never going to be a bookman in the upper tier. You don't have it in you. You want to be a cop; you're still a cop at heart."
[Pages 456-7, paperback edition]

Now if you reframe that passage slightly, it becomes a dialogue between John Dunning and his readers. Dunning, I think, doesn't really want to be the major figure in crime fiction that his first two books suggested he might be. He doesn't have it in him. He wants to be an ordinary, hard-boiled detective writer; he's still a hard-boiled detective writer at heart.

And when he says that'll never happen. We readers are bound to declare, "Oh, John, it has [italicized] happened."

Consider this book. Dunning obviously wanted to write about a hard-boiled guy snooping around a racetrack. On the other hand, he, his agent and his publisher, were fully aware that his paying fans wanted a story about books and bookmen.
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Format: Hardcover
John Dunning wrote a couple of my favorite quiet mysteries with the first books in this series. If he had left it as a trilogy, I think that these books would have gone down as classics of their era. However, Dunning has persisted in turning this into a series that just has no legs what-so-ever. I have noticed while reading all of Dunnings work that Characters are not one of his strong points. Dunning tells a great story, and has the ability to incorporate an archetype that he has used in every one of his novels. The archetype is not a bad one, and it suffices to push along what is usually a pretty darn good yarn. The reason I am pointing this opinion of mine out is that for the first time ever, I have noticed a devolution of a character in the hands of an author. From the first book in this series, to Bookwomans Fling, Janeway has lost a lot of his allure. I dont think that we been given any insights at all into the make-up of this man, and because of that this book suffers.

You might disagree with me in what I just said, however I urge you to go back and flip through "Booked to Die", notice the depth of character beyond what you might have pulled in if you have watched many Noir flicks or the 50's or read books such as Maltese Falcon. Theirs not much to Janeway. But its ok in that book because the story is so original. Now look at Bookwomans Last Fling and you have exactly the same character. Janeway has not grown, and Dunning has not given us anything to feed upon.

Lastly, I think that the point I am trying to make here is best observed when you take a look at Dunnings female characters. Every single one of them is as thin as a gust of wind. They are all pretty much the same.
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Format: Hardcover
Denver book buyer Cliff Janeway has been called to Idaho to assess the estate collection of H.R. and Candice Geiger, both deceased. But of course, the task is not that simple. The estate manager's demeanor runs the gamut from vague to downright surly. H.R.'s books are at the main house, while Candice's are with her daughter Sharon. Someone seems to have been stealing selected volumes from some series runs over the years. The three Geiger brothers are each crazy in their own way, or worse. Oh, and then there's that little matter about whether or not Candice was murdered so long ago. Janeway approaches it all with his usual calculating manner, using his ex-cop intuition to decide how to best be involved with the books, the loose ends, and with this seemingly dysfunctional family.

And since the Geiger business is racehorses, Janeway gets his foot in that barn door, too. He follows the investigation to a racetrack in California, where he takes on work as a hot walker. Here he (and we readers) learn more about the scene behind the races. Before too long, we're all comfortable with hanging out with the ginny and the bug boy and tackling the endless duty of mucking out the stables. Cliff's girlfriend, bookstore partner and lawyer Erin, joins him for part of the investigation and is accidentally put into harm's way. The true identity of the perpetrator remains a mystery to us until the last 23 pages, when most savvy readers will get a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs, and no one will be able to warn Cliff of the danger ahead. We just have to hang on and hope that the good guy prevails.
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