Synopses & Reviews
From New York Times
bestselling author John Dunning comes a riveting new Cliff Janeway Bookman novel, combining captivating book lore with page-turning suspense.
Denver bookman and ex-cop Cliff Janeway is enjoying the good life, buying and selling the books he adores as he ekes out a living in his store on seedy East Colfax. And it doesn't hurt that superstar lawyer Erin D'Angelo has joined him as a partner in both business and love.
Erin is a special lady, so it's hard for Janeway to refuse her when she asks a favor. Will he travel to the little mountain town of Paradise, Colorado, to check on one of Erin's girlhood friends who's in deep trouble? Laura Marshall sits in the county jail, accused of murdering her husband, Bobby.
The situation is delicate because Bobby and Erin were a couple before he married Laura. In fact, it was Laura's affair with Bobby that ended Erin's relationship with each of them, and the women have been estranged ever since. Now Laura has called on Erin for help, but Erin's not sure she even wants to see her onetime best friend, let alone get involved in her case. Could Janeway visit Laura on Erin's behalf and try to find out what happened the night Bobby died?
The clincher for Janeway: Bobby Marshall was a book collector, and Janeway can't resist a house full of books any more than he can resist Erin's uncharacteristic request. His normally self-sufficient girlfriend is clearly at loose ends. He drives to Paradise the next day.
Janeway soon discovers that neither he nor Erin is likely to be able to save Laura Marshall. The young wife and mother is terrified of something and has already admitted to the arresting officer a smarmy local deputy with a huge chip on his shoulder that she shot her husband and then tried to dispose of the bloody evidence.
But did everything really happen as Laura claims? And what about the books? Bobby had a vast library, but at a casual glance, the titles seem ordinary, even to a seasoned bookman like Janeway. Could they possibly be a motive for murder?
Janeway, Erin, and local attorney Parley McNamara discover that the case against Laura Marshall is far more complicated than it seems. Professionally, Erin must decide whether to represent Laura; and personally, whether a decades-old friendship can be resurrected. Janeway wants to know the significance of Bobby's book collection. He senses their importance, and under his careful scrutiny, the rows of unremarkable volumes could reveal a killer's motive.
Rich with the intricacies of book collecting that only an expert like John Dunning can offer, The Sign of the Book is a beautifully crafted, enthralling novel of suspense from the consummate bookman himself.
"As an antiquarian book dealer and sometime private investigator, Cliff Janeway is unique in contemporary crime fiction, and no doubt that accounts for a good part of his popularity among the book community. But it's the sure hand with which Dunning renders him (and a large cast of other characters) that makes the Bookman novels so compulsively readable. In this fine fourth volume in the series (after 2004's The Bookman's Promise), Janeway is sent, by his lover and partner, criminal defense attorney Erin D'Angelo, to the mountain town of Paradise, Colo., to look into the murder of Robert Marshall, a mysterious figure with a massive collection of signed first editions. But the connection to Erin extends well beyond Marshall's library: the victim was Erin's first real love, and his wife, Laura (who confessed to the crime when she was found at the scene, covered in blood), was her former best friend. Naturally, the antiquarian book world serves both as background and plot element, and Janeway combines his experience as an ex-cop and knowledgeable dealer to unravel the mystery. The book-related plot is somewhat arbitrarily grafted onto the main narrative, but Dunning writes with such confidence and assurance the reader cannot help being drawn into this compelling whodunit."
Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The clever mystery is neither dense nor twisty enough to rank with Dunning's best work...and the final revelation is one too many. But Janeway is as resourceful as ever...." Kirkus Reviews
"The Sign of the Book is definitely Dunning's best Bookman novel since Booked to Die...The Sign of the Book will appeal to mystery fans of all stripes and no doubt be showing up on best-seller lists coast to coast." Denver Post
"Janeway fans will appreciate the continuity of the story from the last book, with lots of blanks filled in concerning the book cop's love life. And any mystery lover will appreciate the quick, complex plot." Rocky Mountain News
"The author immerses the reader in this intriguing little-known milieu without losing sight of the page-turning yarn he's spinning. In the end you may be dis-appointed that the last plot twist has finally played out."
"Dunning, twice nominated for the Edgar, 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."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Fascinating...Very cannily and creepily, Dunning shows how quiet men with civilized tastes can turn into killers....The payoff, in pleasure, is for the reader."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"I am...an unabashed admirer of John Dunning's Booked to Die.
No one...can fail to be delighted by the sort of folkloric advice Janeway carries with him."
-- Boston Sunday Globe
"A joy to read for its wealth of inside knowledge about the antiquarian book business and its eccentric traders...A soundly plotted, evenly executed whodunit in the classic mode...Cliff Janeway makes a honey of a debut."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Dunning's best. . . . Top-shelf sleuthing." -- The Denver Post
"It's great fun thumbing the pages with Cliff Janeway. . . ." -- The New York Times
"[With] forensic details that might have Patricia Cornwell turning green with envy, The Sign of the Book will appeal to mystery fans of all stripes." -- The Denver Post
"Booked to Die
offers an intriguing peek inside the antiquarian book business, and book lovers will be fascinated by the setting and education along the way. Yet this story has much more...Dunning's return...has the mystery readers' scene buzzing with great reviews and hopeful that more books featuring his detective-book dealer will be forthcoming."
-- Houston Chronicle
"Dunning is an amazingly assured writer, willing to head off down narrative side streets, secure that his readers will follow. He's never wrong."
"Crisp, direct prose and nearly pitch-perfect dialogue enhance this meticulously detailed page-turner."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred)
From the New York Times bestselling author who has charmed America with his passion for collectible first editions comes a riveting new Cliff Janeway Bookman crime novel that reveals some of book collecting's most shocking secrets.
From the "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Bookman's Promise" comes a riveting new Cliff Janeway "Bookman" crime novel that reveals some of book collecting's most shocking secrets. Available in this Premium Edition.
About the Author
has revealed some of book collecting's most shocking secrets in his bestselling series of crime novels featuring Cliff Janeway: Booked to Die
, which won the prestigious Nero Wolfe award; The Bookman's Wake
, a New York Times
Notable Book of 1995; and the New York Times
and Book Sense
bestsellers The Bookman's Promise
, The Sign of the Book
, and The Bookwoman's Last Fling
. He is also the author of the Edgar Award-nominated Deadline
, The Holland Suggestions
, and Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime
. An expert on rare and collectible books, he owned the Old Algonquin Bookstore in Denver for many years. He is also an expert on American radio history, authoring On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio
. He lives in Denver, Colorado.