Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway, #1)” as Want to Read:
Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  5,589 Ratings  ·  503 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Oct 16, 2012 Suzy marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Putting this on my "read" shelf is a misnomer because I only listened to 2 of the 12 hours of audio before giving up. I thought this series would be a perfect fit because it's a mystery series with a theme of book buying/selling/dealing and it takes place in Denver, a favorite city. The protagonist, Cliff Janeway, is a homicide cop with a penchant for collecting books. TMI! Too much of the book was spent explaining and standing on a soap-box about book collecting. There was even a line in here w ...more
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.
Kasa Cotugno
I read this when it first came out and loved it.
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
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.
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.
Apr 27, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad! gotta read all the rest of them now!
Apr 12, 2017 Mark rated it it was amazing
Booked to Die is a quadruple threat, getting all of the basic elements of a mystery novel- character, setting, plotting and writing - just right. I especially enjoyed the introduction to the bygone (although contemporary when the novel was written) world of pre-internet book selling and hunting. John Dunning's prose is the literary equivalent of a La-Z-Boy chair; you just sink into it and the rest of the world disappears. I need to continue on in this series (just like countless others).
Phyllis Bismanovsky
Apr 14, 2017 Phyllis Bismanovsky rated it really liked it
Loved it! Want to read more. Det. character well developed. Did not see the ending coming.
Alli Pescosoido
Mar 26, 2017 Alli Pescosoido rated it really liked it
When I go into an independent bookstore, one of the genres I look for is books about bookstores. I thought I'd read most of them. This one I found at The Book Loft in Solvang, CA.
Twas a fun read, a much needed escape from the real life political mayhem that is going on in our country. Felt like reading an episode of Law and Order, entertaining whodunit, light, nothing earth shattering. It introduced me to the used book world of 1992, which has probably changed very much, mostly because of the i
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
Jane Debano
Oct 13, 2011 Jane Debano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love books or collect them, you'll find the Bookman series by John Dunning fascinating and very entertaining. They are mysteries, starring Cliff Janeway, cop turned bookman and bookshop owner. A bookman is a person who engages in buying and selling books or a person who loves books; a collector. There are five books in the series, all at JDL. John Dunning has been a bookscout (a person who looks for old books,) worked at race tracks all over the west, been a copyboy, investigative reporte ...more
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
Beth Menendez
Feb 07, 2017 Beth Menendez rated it really liked it
I found this book rather interesting. Maybe it's because I listened to it instead of reading it, but the narrator's voice made me think of a 1940's saga. That sort of slowed me down at the beginning, but by the end of the book I was hooked. I cannot say that I think Cliff Janeway is a great guy. I do not like how he breaks rules wily nily and that he seems to lack self control. The fact that he leaves a rather great police career suddenly kind of rubs me the wrong way too. BUT I do like that he ...more
Anne, Unfinished Woman
The subject of bookselling, bookcollecting, rare books and suspense make this the ultimate reading experience for me. The start of a wonderful series starring Cliff Janeway. I am only sorry that he no longer adds to these books.
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
Bette Ball
Mar 14, 2017 Bette Ball rated it it was amazing
A new author for me. I really enjoyed this book and will be reading more by this author! Hopefully I can find book #2 at my library in the next few days.
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Unprintable (A Book Lover's Mystery, #3)
  • Among the Gently Mad: Strategies and Perspectives for the Book-Hunter in the 21st Century
  • The Burglar in the Library (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #8)
  • Warmly Inscribed: The New England Forger and Other Book Tales
  • Death's Autograph (Dido Hoare, #1)
  • Hound
  • At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History
  • The Book on the Bookshelf
  • The Thin Woman (Ellie Haskell Mystery, #1)
  • Black Knight in Red Square (Porfiry Rostnikov, #2)
  • Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers
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)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“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
More quotes…