three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
By: 
John Dunning
user_rating: 
0

A Cliff Janeway Novel

A-The Bookwoman’s Last FlingIn this fifth mystery of the series (after 2005’s The Sign of the Book, 4 of 5 Stars May/June 2005), Cliff Janeway, a Denver rare-book dealer and ex-cop, travels to Idaho to appraise the rare collection of children’s books of recently deceased horse trainer H. R. Geiger and his wife, who died mysteriously two decades earlier. When Janeway arrives, several of the valuable books have disappeared. As Janeway tries to solve the mystery, he follows clues that take him to Geiger’s daughter, to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Fields, to the Santa Anita Racetracks—and to possible murder.
Scribner. 352 pages. $25. ISBN: 0743289455

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"In the pursuit of this homicidal ‘biblioperp,’ Dunning takes us on an exhilarating adventure that makes book-collecting seem as exciting as horseracing. … A tough man in the action scenes, Janeway becomes as tender as a lamb when he’s holding Winnie the Pooh in his big mitts." Marilyn Stasio

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The complicated plot seems to grind its wheels here and there and hangs together a little bit too loosely, but the puzzle at the center brings it all home in the end." Jane Dickinson

Miami Herald 2 of 5 Stars
"This new Cliff Janeway thriller focuses more on horses than on books, and this development turns out to be something of a mixed blessing. … But the suspense gets lost amid the jockey lore and racing forms. Once the plot turns clunky, Janeway and Dunning struggle." Connie Ogle

Critical Summary

John Dunning knows the horse and book worlds well. Before writing his first book, he worked for horse trainers in Denver, Idaho, and California, and he ran the Old Algonquin Bookstore in Denver. The Bookman’s Last Fling offers a smart, authentic look into both worlds. Janeway, agreeably misanthropic as always, complements a cast of complex, fascinating characters, local color, and solid dialogue. Critics noted, however, an awkward plot mired by unoriginal details, which diminishes the force of the mystery. While equestrian fans will enjoy this thriller, Dunning’s regular bibliophile base may want to wait for the next ride.