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The Bookman's Promise (Cliff Janeway #3)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  2,502 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
Cliff Janeway is back! The Bookman's Promise marks the eagerly awaited return of Denver bookman-author John Dunning and the award-winning crime novel series that helped to turn the nation on to first-edition book collecting.
First, it was Booked to Die, then The Bookman's Wake. Now John Dunning fans, old and new, will rejoice in The Bookman's Promise, a richly nuanced new
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Scribner
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Apr 01, 2016 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

The man said, "So we have a mystery here as well as a valuable book," and it all began then. Its roots went back to another time, when Richard Francis Burton met his greatest admirer and then set off on a secret journey, deep into the troubled American South. Because of that trip a friend of mine died. An old woman found peace, a good man lost everything, and I rediscovered myself on my continuing journey across the timeless, infinite world of books.

Cliff Janeway, the brawling bookseller, ex-c
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
Apr 28, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bibliophiles, history buffs, Civil War buffs, mystery lovers
What more can you want? Yes, I am hooked on this series, and this one is a masterpiece. Engrossing characters from the very beginning, a book hunt over several states, a plot involving flashbacks to the life of the 19th century adventurer and explorer, Richard Burton, and a resolution of the plot that makes complete sense. Concisely written.
It sent me to the library to find Fawn Brodie's biography of Richard Burton. Several unforgettable "secondary" characters remain in my mind - Denise and Mike
Oct 17, 2008 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books by John Dunning are a real treat because they not only provide a great story, they are also informative. The Bookman's Promise is equal parts of historical novel, book collectors' guide, and who-dunnit that once again features our favorite cop turned bookman, Cliff Janeway.

In this offering Dunning presents his readers with the premise that Sir Richard Burton (no not Liz's ex) whose achievements included extensive exploration into the vast unknown, the discovery of the headwaters of the Ni
Mar 13, 2008 Scot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Third in the Cliff Janeway series, like its predecessors this is a well written detective novel that combines many elements of the classic hardboiled genre with a love for the world of rare and used books, and is set in the time period just before the Internet emerged to change not only the way the rare book industry worked but social interactions in the society at large as well. This installment has our clever (love his sense of humor) ex-cop hero involved in a deadly search for a long lost jou ...more
Jan 31, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Cliff Janeway more and more all the time. Perhaps I'm a bit raw from reading Judgment Ridge, but I felt the book would have been just as good if not better without the murder element. You CAN have mysteries without murders - can't you? Still, I enjoyed the embedded Civil War intrigue and, as always, the fascinating glimpse into the world of book scouts and dealers. Makes me think I have to stop writing in the margins!
Mary JL
Dec 08, 2010 Mary JL rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any mystery fan
Recommended to Mary JL by: I was familiar with the series
Shelves: mystery-horror
This is the third book in the Cliff Janeway series; but the book stand s alone and the series may be read in any order. Cliff is an ex-cop, who used to collect books, now's he's a rare books dealer.

You do not usually associate books with crime. But rare books cost serious money. At stake in this mystery is an 1860's book, signed the the author, famous explorer Richard Burton. Cliff estimates the value of this book at twenty to twenty-five thousands dollars. That kind of money does attract crimin
Nov 29, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like its predecessors, Booked to Die and The Bookman s Wake, The Bookman s Promise follows the exploits of bookstore owner and one-time police detective Cliff Janeway. Janeway can’t seem to keep investigative work out of his life, despite his efforts to focus on being a fulltime bookman.

In this installment, Janeway has become an admirer of Richard Burton, a multi-talented nineteenth-century English explorer. Using a pile of cash received in his last outing, Janeway has purchased at auction a rar
Sep 29, 2007 El rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
Josephine Gallant is the elderly character who turns ex-cop, Cliff Janeway, onto his newest mystery in this third Dunning novel. She carries a story about her grandfather who allegedly befriended Richard Burton (the famed explorer, not Liz Taylor's boy-toy) and had adventures with him throughout the South prior to the American Civil War. The mystery comes in the form of books, as per usual, and the questions are who is telling the truth, who has rights to the books and where will it all go in th ...more
Nov 22, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devoured this series when I found it. It's a good mix of mystery and book collecting. If you really love books, you would like this series. But I was surprised when I was rearranging my books to find The Bookman's Promise. I read the synopsis and it didn't sound familiar. How did I read all other books in the series and not this? We must remedy that!

We're back with Cliff Janeway, ex-cop turned bookstore owner/bookscout. He comes across a rare Richard Burton book and purchases it for fairly hef
Jan 25, 2015 Latique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are times when you read the back of the book and buy it thinking that it'll be mildly entertaining, but not something you'd keep forever, right? Well, this book started like that and now I'm rearranging my overly full bookshelves to make room for it to stay. Welcome to the family, little rebel. The fact that this book is technically the third in a quartet with the same main character makes no difference to the story, plot, or enjoyment of the book. It stands alone wonderfully, and by the e ...more
Nov 28, 2013 Cat. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I think Dunning only writes when he runs out of money. Which is sort of cool. Anyway, this is his first Janeway story in over a decade.

The main reason I've read his stuff before is that it takes place in Denver, the Denver I grew up knowing. And this is set in 1987, so I should know my way around a bit. Unfortunately, most of the action in this book takes place in South Carolina and Baltimore. Oh, well...

The story follows Richard Burton, the explorer, and tries to explain what he was doing for
Sep 19, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Bookman's Promise” is the third book in John Dunning’s series featuring Cliff Janeway. And if you’ve read my reviews of the first two books in the series, you’ll know how much I like Cliff Janeway and Dunning’s style of writing!

Jacket notes: “The quest begins when an old woman, Josephine Gallant, learns that Janeway has recently bought at auction a signed first edition by the legendary nineteenth-century explorer Richard Francis Burton. The book is a true classic, telling of Burton's journe
Dec 26, 2012 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cliff Janeway is an intriguing character with a unique profession - a bookseller, or book connoisseur, or Bookman. Like an alcoholic who runs a bar in order to have ready access to his oblivion, Janeway has to have the big books, the important books. Dunning's mysteries tend to be so enjoyable because of the way his character interests us in books, their feel, their provenance, their allure. Janeway also happens to be an ex-cop, and this keeps the plot running.

The pivotal books in this mystery a
Feb 15, 2015 Jo-anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this story of detective Cliff Janeway enough to keep me reading to the end of this book despite the nagging echo of the story that played in my head suggesting that I had already read it previously. When I finally accepted the realization that I had indeed read the book, I felt the need to continue as I was compelled to reacquaint myself with the ending. Didn't disappoint me the first time and didn't the second time. Thank heavens for Goodreads as I now have a system with a reliable me ...more
Sarah Sammis
Nov 03, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
The Bookman's Promise is the third in the Cliff Janeway series but the only one I've read. I picked it up at the start of the year at our local BookCrossing meeting because the premise sounded interesting.

Cliff Janeway, a retired cop turned book collector / book detective is put on the trail of a hidden journal by Francis Burton. In the process of hunting down the book and verifying the story behind it, a person is murdered and Cliff can't help but try to solve the mystery too.

The book didn't gr
Nov 20, 2011 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bookman’s Promise is the 3rd in John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway series. With the windfall cash Cliff has from the Grayson business (see The Bookman’s Wake), he decides to spend some serious money on a single book. He becomes interested in the work of renowned 19th century British explorer, Sir Richard Burton, and manages to spend $30,000 on a signed copy of Pilgrimage. Soon, he is contacted by Josephine Gallant, granddaughter of that book’s former owner, and Cliff finds himself making her a pro ...more
A great Janeway Adventure!, July 27, 2012
By Ellen Rappaport (Florida)
This review is from: Bookmans Promise (Paperback)
This adventure takes Cliff Janeway on a search for the famous explorer's(Richard Burton) collection of his journeys. This search actually begins after Janeway has purchased a first edition signed by Richard Burton's at an auction. When Josephine Gallant learns of this purchase she believes it to be part of her grandfather's collection of Richard Burton's writings which has my
Judy Goodnight
Jul 30, 2011 Judy Goodnight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
The Cliff Janeway bookman series by John Dunning is so far meeting & exceeding my expectations. In this third book, Dunning takes us far away from Denver in both place and time. It starts when Janeway purchases a book by the legendary 19th century explorer Richard Burton. Soon after, a 90-year-old woman arrives at his store, shows him another pristine book by Burton and claims that both were the property of her grandfather, a friend of Burton. A promise to that woman before her death to find ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first two books in the series a few years ago and I really liked them. I felt like I was getting an education in the world of rare books. I just found out that there were more books in the series, so I am eager to read them all.
I finally finished reading this book. It took me longer than I thought it would. I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I like the character Janeway, and I find it interesting to learn about the world of booksellers and old books. I think because this wa
Chris Fow Cohen
Nov 17, 2013 Chris Fow Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a gripping tale of a cop gone bookseller. It was a little tedious at first, trying to figure out when the adventure was going to begin — but when it did, it was action-packed and interesting. The end was a total surprise, a rare treat.

The author mixed in history, crime drama, bookselling, book collecting, thugs and judges. Oh, and the Pulitzer Prize. Talk about a diverse subject range!

I liked the characters, but sometimes Cliff sounded like a bad crime novel. Also, I felt like Koko wasn
Really extremely well written. All the characters had such depth to them. There really wasn't anybody you didn't like in the sense I couldn't stand to read about them. The bad guys were bad but I wanted to read about them. A lot of it was so unexpected wow where did that come from but was really interesting. For me though it wasn't a page turner though I did read at least 3 pages a day. Maybe because I am too busy right now? Perhaps not. I didn't obsesses about it. I did how ever thoroughly enjo ...more
I liked this book. That said, it is not as compelling a read as books 1 and 2 in this series. Admittedly, I was ill while reading the book, but it took me way longer than usual. All that aside, it does have Dunning's usual twisty plot line. And, once again, I didn't know the real villain until the reveal. After the fact, I could see the clues, but I was so focused on the character as a good guy that it never even rang a bell.
There was less about the arcane world of book collecting and the people
Jun 29, 2016 Peggy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have read most of this series about Cliff Janeway, ex-homicide cop turned book collector/store owner. This is my least favorite in this series. Cliff has earned a huge payday and wants to splurge on one rare collectible book. He goes to an auction and spends nearly $30,000 on a book by 19th century explorer Richard Burton. This brings publicity and suddenly he is approached by a 90 year old woman claiming the book was stolen from her family decades earlier. This begins a long journey to find t ...more
Jan 05, 2016 Randy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2012
Forced to retire from the police force, Cliff Janeway has taken on a new profession: Book Dealer. After a successful find, Cliff has money to spare which he promptly uses to purchase a 1st edition Richard Burton book. This sets off a series of event that lead to his hunting down an old story of RIchard Burton travelling through America just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Throw in a murder and book thieves and you have a story.

This was my first read of a John Dunning novel. I won't be rush
Feb 18, 2011 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Book seller and former cop Cliff Janeway meets an old woman whose family had a almost priceless collection of books. Unfortunately the books were sold by her father when the old woman was a child. In her late years, she wants to find out what has happened to the books and wanted to bring them back together and asks Janeway the bookseller to find them.

Following the murder of a friend Janeway is committed to finding answers to the question of the fate of the books. He travels through the dark rea
Aug 11, 2012 Quinn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an enjoyable story-within-a-story book. And a good mystery. It's easy for me to overlook small plotting discrepancies (do we really need to bring in Italian-named thugs to make sure the reader knows they are gun-toting bad guys and will beat you up for money?) and the need to tie up everything neatly at the end, I loved reading a book about loving and owning valuable books. And the value of books to individuals. Mysteries and suspense novels are a great way to take a break from reality. ...more
The Cliff Janeway series provides all the necessities of a good detective series...the gruff but lovable detective, the love interest, the back story and the wide-ranging relationships to throw in a twist every now and again. This one was good, you can work through the detail enough to have a pretty good idea of whodunit. I admit, I'm not fond of the mystery-genre where the end is such a twist you couldn't have worked it out unless you climbed into the author's head.

However, I will say that I l
Oct 14, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although there's a murder, gangsters, and a semi-hard-boiled detective, the primary and much more interesting mystery is the search for a journal of Richard Burton (the 19th century explorer, not the actor). The novel contains a fifty page extract from the journal of a traveling companion of Burton's in the Ante-Bellum South, which, among other things, tells how Burton was influential in starting the Civil War. (There's a mystery for you!) Like the other Janeway novels, there's a lot about the r ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've now read the first three books of the Janeway series in order, and each one is a bit weaker than the last. The first was superb, the second good but not as compelling, and this one was...ok. Readable, but I found it slow going at times. There is a very long section in the middle that's essentially flashback narration from a Civil War-era character. It's a LOT of exposition and the delivery is rather forced. Basically, there is a lot of setup for an ultimately unfulfilling payoff. It's not a ...more
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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)
  • Booked To Die (Cliff Janeway, #1)
  • The Bookman's Wake (Cliff Janeway, #2)
  • The Sign of the Book (Cliff Janeway, #4)
  • The Bookwoman's Last Fling (Cliff Janeway, #5)

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