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Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  5,364 Ratings  ·  482 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 394 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Pocket Star (first published 1992)
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Dec 25, 2016 Lawyer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy fine mysteries and fine books
Recommended to Lawyer by: From the Library of Lynda, Bookwoman.
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.

Book Row, Denver
Whoever would have thought that buying and selling books could be so dangerous?

This book is about books. Good old fashioned books, and it is written in a good old fashioned style. The hero is a disgraced cop turned bookman, who likes being a bookman when he is a cop, and acts like a cop when he is a bookman. He breaks every rule in the book, but all the better for entertaining us, the avid readers. Of course there is a lovely lady to distract Cliff Janeway as he works at his two
Jul 11, 2012 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

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
Oct 14, 2012 Harry rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 16, 2008 Larissa rated it really liked it
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
João Carlos

Booked To Die: A Mystery Introducing Cliff Janeway - 1st Edition/1st Printing
John Dunning
Price: $800.00

O escritor norte-americano John Dunnig (n. 1942) escreve “Marcado Para Morrer” (Editorial Estampa) em 1992, no original “Booked to Die”, primeiro livro de uma série com Cliff Janeway, um detective da polícia de Denver e bibliófilo, um verdadeiro coleccionador de livros raros, primeiras edições, assinadas pelos autores, em óptimo estado de conservação, ”O meu apartamento parecia uma secção da Bi
Jun 04, 2014 Martha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-the-shelf
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
Nov 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Librarians and used bookstore employees who like a good mystery.
Recommended to Jennifer by: Ted
Shelves: mystery, 2002
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.
Pamela Mclaren
Dec 19, 2013 Pamela Mclaren rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
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
Jan 01, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
What voracious reader doesn't enjoy a book about books? This book is an interesting inside-look at 'Book Hounds' and the used-book business.
Kasa Cotugno
I read this when it first came out and loved it.
Mar 18, 2017 Nicolle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 26, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it
Cliff Janeway is a rough and tough cop with his own set of morals that blend with his heart and sense of right and wrong. He's likeable, witty, edgy, and more than ready to take risks no matter what direction they may take him. And best of all...this book is about books! So no wonder I very much enjoyed Dunning's first book in his Cliff Janeway series. "Booked to Die" is one of those books that reads like a flows naturally through both plot and dialogue. This is one of those mysteries ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Shelves: own-it
When I started this, I wasn't sure if I'd read it before. It was vaguely familiar, but I thought that may have been due to having heard about it. The whole first half of the book, I was convinced I hadn't read it - the characters and situations just didn't seem familiar. But then we reached the part where the old man dies and leaves hundreds of books, the value and ownership of which is in dispute. Aha! BOOKS I remembered! But not the people! Hmmm, what does that say about me? ;-) Anyway, it was ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Booked to Die is John Dunning’s 5th fiction novel and the first in the Cliff Janeway series. As unlikely as it seems that a crime fiction novel about second hand books could be very exciting, this is a page-turner. At the start of this book, Clifford Janeway is a homicide detective with the Denver Police Department. When Bobby Westfall, a local penniless bookscout and cat lover, is found murdered in an alley, Janeway is convinced it is the work Jackie Newton, a local petty criminal with money an ...more
May 17, 2014 Ellen rated it it was amazing
"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 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
May 31, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
A better-than-average debut mystery revolving around rare books. Bibliophiles should love it. While the mystery itself is a bit too convoluted and the resolution a little too convenient, it's still better than most.

Protagonist Cliff Janeway is an cop/ex-cop/bookseller who exhibits a rare knock heads and discuss fine lit combo not seen in most good guys today. In short, he seems conflicted all the time, torn between two worlds. He's the working man version of Agent Pendergast of the Preston &
Booked to Die by John Dunning is really almost a 4 star, but not quite. Perhaps unfairly I've rated it 3/5, and it's entirely possible I'll upgrade as time goes by. The books main problem, I believe, is what is common to 99% of 'first of a series'. It has to lay lots of ground work, and that isn't always the smoothest reading.

The premise is interesting. A police detective that is also a Bookman. Amateur to begin with, his skills have been honed over the years and he feels just disgusted enough w
There is a lot of talk among bibliophiles. Rare books and their values are instrumental in its plot. This is a wonderful 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 pre
Jan 23, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
As I first began reading this, even though I knew it was a "bibliomystery" (love that word!), the fact that it was a contemporary mystery from over 20 years ago put me off a bit, I'm not sure why. However, it didn't take long for me to become entirely engrossed. There's mystery; and submystery; and the fun of building up a new bookselling enterprise; and insight into the book-buying buisiness; and lots of intricate, interesting, well-fleshed-out characters in a fascinating setting (Denver). I co ...more
David Eppenstein
Dec 05, 2012 David Eppenstein rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Apr 08, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is a freight train of a book, starts out slow and picks up speed and momentum until it roars down the tracks at the end. The mystery unfolds slowly, and Dunning manages to give a couple of small hints that aren't obvious leads to the answer until the big reveal.

Some of the supporting characters are more likable than the lead, Cliff Janeway, but he's believable and, ultimately, the kind of guy you root for. I'll be looking for the next book in this series.
Feb 27, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Cliff Janeway is a cop who loves books and does something he shouldn't have in the course of trying to solve a murder, which results in his changing careers to book dealer. He still keeps trying to solve the murder, and the killer claims two more victims, right in Cliff's bookstore. It's well written, with interesting characters. There was a lot of detail about what collectible books are worth and why, which I enjoyed, even though it's quite dated.
Dunning, John - 1st in Cliff Janeway series

Tough, book-loving homicide detective Cliff Janeway believes Jackie Newton is to blame for the recent murder of a down-and-out rare book hunter. And when Janeway treats Newton to a brutal helping of off-duty justice, it costs him his badge. But that doesn't mean his investigation is over. . . .

Great protagonist. I love the that he is a homicide detective and a bibliophile. I can't wait to read more of his books.
brian tanabe
Mar 21, 2008 brian tanabe rated it really liked it
I cannot imagine how Dunning ran this idea by his agent: I want to write a book about a kick-butt bad-ass Denver detective who opens a successful antiquarian bookstore AND gets the ladies. But that's all history and here's the start of a successful mystery series.

Anyway, I am not a huge mystery genre fan, but I am a fan of the book collecting arts so I gave this a shot. I am so happy I did and I cannot wait to read the rest in the series.
Jul 31, 2010 Rebekkila rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing, mystery
I read this book about a month ago. I am a HUGE fan of thrillers and I really liked this. The Protagonist is a book fan and gives some pretty interesting insights into what makes a book valuable. I can't wait to read others by this author. This book would appeal to anyone who loves books, not just thriller fans.
Mar 09, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
I don't read a lot of detective novels, but I was drawn to this one because the plot involves book dealers and collectors. I would have rated it higher if the writing had been better -- some of the dialogue was so hard-boiled that it was absurd -- but I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to the missing books. The answer didn't disappoint.
E.J. Stevens
Oct 22, 2014 E.J. Stevens rated it it was amazing
Read my mini quickie review, part of the Bibliomystery Mania: For the Love of Books About Books blog post at From the Shadows.
Nikki Nielsen
Mar 30, 2008 Nikki Nielsen rated it really liked it
A two-time Edgar nominee that is not only a well written whodunit but manages to include antiquarian book collecting?? I am hooked and on my way out to buy the second book in the bibliophile Cliff Janeway series.
Jun 03, 2013 Debra rated it really liked it
Wonderful mystery for the bibliophile! Loaded with oodles of information on collectible/valuable books and has a great mystery to boot! Nice twist and ending leaves you wanting to read the next book in the series. I certainly will.
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John Dunning was born in 1942 in Brooklyn, NY. He was raised in Charleston, SC, is married, and has two adult children.

John always wanted to write, but was a poor student. He left high school in the tenth grade, partly because of an inability to concentrate and absorb lectures. Several years ago he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD), a malady that could not have been imagined in t
More about John Dunning...

Other Books in the Series

Cliff Janeway (5 books)
  • The Bookman's Wake (Cliff Janeway, #2)
  • The Bookman's Promise (Cliff Janeway, #3)
  • The Sign of the Book (Cliff Janeway, #4)
  • The Bookwoman's Last Fling (Cliff Janeway, #5)

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“Carol would not be a bad one to [settle down] with. She's pretty and bright, and maybe this is what love is. She's good company: her interests broaden almost every day. She reads three books to my one, and I read a lot. We talk far into the night. She still doesn't understand the first edition game: Hemingway, she says, reads just as well in a two-bit paperback as he does in a $500 first printing. I can still hear myself lecturing her the first time she said that. Only a fool would read a first edition. Simply having such a book makes life in general and Hemingway in particular go better when you do break out the reading copies. I listened to myself and thought, This woman must think I'm a government-inspected horse's ass. Then I showed her my Faulkners, one with a signature, and I saw her shiver with an almost sexual pleasure as she touched the paper where he signed. Faulkner was her most recent god[.]” 7 likes
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