Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway, #1)
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Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  4,021 ratings  ·  361 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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Algernon

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...more
Harry
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
Larissa
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...more
Martha
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...more
Jennifer
Nov 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Librarians and used bookstore employees who like a good mystery.
Recommended to Jennifer by: Ted
Shelves: 2002, mystery
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.
Karen
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.
Cateline
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...more
Ellen
"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 truth...to 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...more
Terry
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...more
Kris
May 08, 2010 Kris rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Dan
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 &...more
Marianne
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
Monica
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 dream...it flows naturally through both plot and dialogue. This is one of those mysteries...more
Carolyn
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.
Doreen
Appropriately enough, I bought this novel at a used book sale. Set in Denver, this mystery features Cliff Janeway, a police detective cum bookman. The murder of a book scout, Bobby Westfall, is a case assigned to Janeway, but things soon go awry. Only the murder of two more people kicks the investigation into overdrive.

This is the first of five Janeway mysteries so this book introduces him. He makes an interesting protagonist. He is tough and determined, but has difficulty with authority and is...more
Domenic Montanaro
I was lead to this book as it was referenced in many other books that were about book collecting/book scouting. I picked it up and immediately couldn't put it down. Now, I am known to love mystery thriller books, especially when there is a historical aspect to it, but I rarely read detective/crime/whodunnit type books and I couldn't put it down.

The book centers around Detective Janeway, and this is the first novel in the Janeway series. Detective Janeway lives in Denver and is a familiar face al...more
Niki Danforth
There are whole categories of really fun mystery titles in which some other cultural element is brought into the story. Anne George was known for her "Southern sisters" mysteries, covering everything from snake handling to professional genealogy con artists in her books. Agatha Christie's famous Miss Marple is a professional gossip and town figure who is able to solve mysteries due to her in-depth knowledge of the countryside and the world beyond.

In John Dunning's series, we're brought into the...more
Heather
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.
brian tanabe
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.
Rebekkila
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.
Debra
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.
Nikki Nielsen
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.
John E
Way above average for hard mysteries. Much better than his "Two AM Eastern War Time". Especially liked the knowledge gained about books (imagine that).
Michael
It was OK, entertaining enough, but my favorite character was gratuitously killed off!
Kris
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 Pr...more
Joe Ohlenbusch
This book was very interesting. I almost didn't care about the story because I was enjoying all the "facts" about books and book scouts that I had no clue about. I put facts in quotes because, after all, this is just a novel and I honestly don't know how much of what was written is true and what Dunning made up to make the book enjoyable.

The story was pretty good though, although it was amazingly convenient that the homicide had to do with books and the detective just happened to be a book coll...more
Carrie
I decided to abandon this book. Reading it was tedious and mind-numbing. I thought I would like a book about book collecting, murder mystery and set in Denver (one of my favorite cities). But, I didn't think the characters were believable and interesting. The story line didn't flow and I couldn't tell what was the main plot. I found myself reading the back of the book to remind myself of what the book was actually about. I only got to page 167, 30 pages shy of the half way point, and felt I'd wa...more
Abbey
BOTTOM LINE: #1 Cliff Janeway, soon-to-be-ex-cop, Denver; bibliomystery, loner PI. Homicide cop - and book junkie - Cliff knows the wherefores and byways of Denver’s book scene, and finds himself on the case when a well-known bookscout gets himself killed. Looks like a simple mugging, but the scout had recently acquired a large batch of expensive books that appear to have gone missing. Where there’s money there’s usually murder, and book dealers don’t always “play nice” when they’re after a priz...more
William
I expected to like this mystery more than I did. Maybe it's just that this book, written in 1992, somehow seems a bit antiquated when read twenty years later.

My fundamental difficulty is that Cliff Janeway, the central figure in this first book of a series, never came to interest me very much. He's a pretty stock figure in this genre -- tough when needed, impulsive to the point of recklessness, dogged, but somehow irresistible to women (well, one woman, anyway). One would think his interest in t...more
Karen
I like mysteries. They're often quirky enough to keep you interested, but formulaic enough not to require too much effort. Having been an antiquarian bookseller in the 90s, this series about the business is particularly interesting. I didn't read them when they came out, but nostalgia adds interest. And because they were based loosely on actual events and actual people, it makes you wonder who you know. This was the subject of much talk 15 or 20 years ago, and is interesting although I only dabb...more
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250531
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
More about John Dunning...
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) Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime

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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[.]” 5 likes
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