Picks and Pans Review: The Bookman's Wake
by John Dunning
Book 'em" just doesn't mean the same thing anymore to Cliff Janeway. A former Denver cop, this hard-boiled straight shooter has recently switched careers. Now he's an antiquarian book dealer. But Janeway's new world has more in common with his old one than he'd like, as he quickly discovers when he accepts a case thrown to him by a former colleague.
On the surface the job sounds easy enough: fly to Seattle to fetch a young woman who has jumped bail after being charged with the attempted murder of a mysterious book collector, which was committed while trying to steal a rare volume printed by the legendary Grayson brothers. But before long, Janeway realizes that he's in a race against a serial killer, one it will take both his cop-and book-smarts to capture.
After initially stumbling with an overly talky setup, Dunning quickly hits his stride in this, the second of his Janeway mysteries. (He has written five other books.) The author, himself a former rare-book dealer, 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 disappointed that the last plot twist has finally played itself out—and even sorrier that the vividly described Grayson oeuvre, with silken book jackets and sheets that "had the feel of another century," exists only in Dunning's imagination. (Scribner, $21)
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