four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
By: 
John Dunning
user_rating: 
0

A Cliff Janeway Bookman Novel

A-SignBookEx-cop Cliff Janeway enjoys shedding his tough-guy persona for his geeky job as an antiquarian book seller. But he can’t say no when criminal defense attorney Erin D’Angelo—his lover and partner—asks him to travel to the small town of Paradise, Colorado, to investigate a murder case. Turns out, Erin has childhood ties to the accused, Laura Marshall, who stole Erin’s lover, married him, then apparently shot him. Although Laura admits to the crime, she denies knowledge of her husband’s rare collection of signed books. Is a shady deputy, a shifty book dealer, or Laura’s adopted autistic child involved?
Scribner. 353 pages. $25. ISBN: 0743255054

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The Sign of the Book is definitely Dunning’s best Bookman novel since Booked to Die, the auspicious debut, and with its mix of noirish elements, legal thriller scenes and forensic details, The Sign of the Book has the ability to appeal to all sorts of mystery buffs—not just the bibliophile sort." Dorman T. Shindler

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"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." Jane Dickinson

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[I]t’s bursting with inside dope about forged autographed copies and other dastardly examples of book fraud. The whodunit, involving the sale of a murdered man’s library, is a bit of a yawn; but it’s great fun thumbing the pages with Janeway, who knows his business and takes a keen, almost sensual pleasure in a virgin edition." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

In 2004’s The Bookman’s Promise, Janeway searched for a valuable book—and a killer. Here, Janeway explores the murder of a man with a valuable library. Dunning, also an antiquarian bookseller (www.oldalgonquin.com), is a bibliophile whose Bookman novels rise above the standard crime fare. This fourth installment updates readers on Janeway’s personal life and fills in gaps from the previous volume. The elaborate plot, convincing red herrings, and pitch-perfect dialogue eclipse the book’s few stock characters and unbelievable dream scene. Critics disagree on the role of books in the novel—one wanted more; another thought the rare-book dealing theme superficial. Either way, you’re in for a smart literary surprise.

Start of the Series

Booked to Die (1992): In the first Cliff Janeway mystery, the Denver cop is after a killer—and out to solve the mystery of the dead bodies that turn up with valuable books.