Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Classic Mystery Series: John Dunning & The Bookman

Today we're starting a new series on mystery and thriller classics, called Mystery Playground Classic. These are books, book series and TV shows that we love so much that we've read or watched again and again. To become a Mystery Playground Classic requires a high bar. Two or more of the gang in the Mystery Playground blog team has to love, love, love it. We'll be featuring these the last Wednesday of every month, and today we start with John Dunning and the Cliff Janeway novels. But Amy & I call them the Bookman books and Cliff Janeway is The Bookman, so we'll go with that...

Do you know those books that stick with you for years? The cover is torn and taped together but you refuse to give it up and recommend it often? For me the John Dunning series with homicide detective Cliff Janeway fits the description. I can’t remember how I originally came across the series but I just recently found the series in a box and immediately lent them to a friend who was looking for a good mystery. The first book, Booked to Die, is set in Denver.  The series features Detective Janeway, a collector of rare and first editions, who occasionally has questionable detecting methods.  The book kicks off when Janeway is assigned to investigate a murder of a book scout, but his anger gets the best of him and his police career is cut short.

To keep himself busy and pay the rent, Janeway opens a small rare bookshop.  He continues to investigate the original murder, but as new much sought after volumes start to appear, so do the dead bodies. The book contains surprise after surprise and will keep you enthralled to the last page. For book lovers, the fact that the mystery revolves around books is a bonus.  

John Dunning writes with first-hand experience from his experience in the used and rare book trade as well as years as a Denver Post police reporter in the 1970s. This is only the first in a five book series so you are guaranteed to be entertained for some time to come.  

The full series includes:

1) Booked To Die, 1992
2) The Bookman’s Wake, 1995
3) The Bookman’s Promise, 2004
4) Sign of the Book, 2005

5) The Bookwoman’s Last Fling, 2006

Look for our Next Mystery Playground Classic on Feb 24, where we'll delve into the wonderful world of the TV show, JAG.


  1. Thanks for reminding me about this delightful series!

  2. Love the Classic idea, and I've read John Dunning, but not all of them. This is a good reminder to do it.