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Booked To Die

(Cliff Janeway #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,519 ratings  ·  623 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 January 23rd 1992)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  6,519 ratings  ·  623 reviews

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Dec 25, 2016 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.

Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 11, 2012 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
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: d, 2019

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 costs him his badge.

Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop - all the while
Nov 16, 2008 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
Oct 14, 2012 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 ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mys, 1990s, 4-corners, jeffco
Quotes from the opening pages:

"Bobby the Bookscout was killed at midnight ...

"You should know something about bookscouts and the world they go around in. This is an age when almost everyone scouts for books. Doctors and lawyers with six-figure incomes prowl the thrift stores and garage sales, hoping to pick up a treasure for pennies on the dollar. But the real bookscout, the pro, has changed very little in the last thirty years. He's a guy who can't make it in the real world. He operates out of
One day, I went to the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair. One day, many years ago, I wandered around the booths of rare books. Snotty, they were all snotty. I am referring to the bookmen and bookwomen, but perhaps all those pristine first editions were a bit snotty, too.

Suddenly, the room came to life! John Dunning was in the house! It was as if the pope had come into the merchandise mart. People there were star struck, in awe of his presence.

And then a very bored looking man with nary a smile
K.J. Charles
Very decent detective novel set in the used book trade. Interesting setup and structure overlaying a couple of secondary plotlines over a fairly uncomplicated murder plot. As ever with a first person narration a lot depends on the POV character, and this one is the usual loner detective tough as nails doesn't play by the book etc, but at least he isn't an alcoholic with an embittered ex wife, so that's something. The used book element adds a lot of interest.

What sucked, enormously, was the
Jun 04, 2014 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
Oct 16, 2012 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 ...more
Diane Challenor
Fantastic read! Not too fast, not too slow; the story was just right (for me). I’d call it a mystery (not a thriller - thank goodness), with lots of spills and a couple of thrills. There were at least two moments when I gasped and thought “Oh my God, NO! And another moment when I laughed out loud, chuckling about the dialogue for a while afterward. I won’t share specifically what these moments were, because I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment. “Booked to Die” is well plotted, demonstrating ...more
Pamela Mclaren
Dec 19, 2013 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
Nov 24, 2008 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.
Aug 20, 2010 rated it liked it
So, apparently I read this in 2010 but don't recall it except that Rita's character seemed really familiar. This is a solid whodunit and a fun peek back at old Denver when you could buy a house in Congress Park for $50,000.
Kasa Cotugno
I read this when it first came out and loved it.
Jonathan Dunsky
Cliff Janeway is a Denver homicide police detective who is also a book collector. He's tough, strong, and has a firm sense of justice and the willingness to not play by the rules in order to see it done.

When a book scout called Bobby is found dead in an alley, Janeway notices that the murder is similar to a string of other homicides that have plagued Denver over the previous few years. Janeway knows who committed those murders. It was a lowlife thug called Jackie Newton whom Janeway has been
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!

I really enjoyed this older whodunit. It’s very original and is based on book dealers and bookshops. The humor was subtle and if you weren’t paying close attention you might miss it. Can’t wait to continue on in the series.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-complete
This book had a really good premise, but unfortunately was spoiled with way too many profanities. I stopped after two chapters.
Meh. I didn't like the elitist attitude of the MC when it comes to books, though I found it pretty ironic that he himself is the star of the 'crappy' books he despised. The whole book didn't sit well with me. The characters were flat, the side story of Newton was just fodder and had nothing to do with the rest. It was just meh. Wouldn't read more and only read this one for a challenge.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
The beginning was a little slow, but then it picked up like a good mystery should.

A few more "f" bombs than wanted, but a good book.
May 17, 2014 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
Mar 18, 2017 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.
David Eppenstein
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The first book in the series that introduces Police detective-turned bookstore owner, Cliff Janeway. The dialogue in this book reads a little like dialogue in a mystery-noir setting. It is simplistic and yet entertaining. Quite a few twists in the plot and I was surprised at 'whodunit'. It is set in Denver, Colorado and the physical setting is a striking addition to the book. Interested in seeing what other exploits Mr. Janeway will follow in future outings.
Mike (the Paladin)
I was slightly torn by this book (and it's sequels). Somehow while I can understand book collecting (I love books also and love being surrounded by books)but I don't really understand putting a book on a shelf and never reading it. So...

Cliff is a cop (soon and ex-cop) who collects books. Now he's running a vintage book shop and still chasing bad guys.
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.
Jun 03, 2013 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.
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic mystery...only a small number in its first printing (if you find a first edition hang on to it...worth a pile of money). This book is for anyone who adores books with their mystery.
Jan 01, 2009 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.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This collection of John Dunning's superb mystery series about a retired Denver Police Detective who goes into the rare book trade is a lot of fun. Start with both books and see if you're not hooked.
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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

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)
“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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