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Denver: A Novel [Paperback]

John Dunning

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Book Description

Dec 1 2010
By the 1920s, Denver had outgrown its frontier-town beginnings. But for some, life was still as perilous as the surrounding terrain. The insidious influence of the Ku Klux Klan was reaching its peak, and those who stood in its path feared for their safety. Denver is the saga of a family caught in this tempestuous time.

To newspaperman Tom Hastings, his writing matters more than anything. As the book opens, President Harding has just died, and Hastings finds himself drawn toward the biggest story of his career. But his wife resents his allegiance to the newspaper and his Jewish stepfather is a target for the supremacist Kleagles—two good reasons not to persist in his pursuit of the story: that and the KKK has penetrated the highest levels of government in the state.

Some eighty characters surround Tom Hastings: there’s his half-sister, the quiet, passionate Jewess Anna Kohl; David Waldo, a socialist and friend to Jack London; Willie Brown, a rising political star torn between his desire for elective office and the love of his life; and Marvel Millette, a Nellie Bly–like reporter in whom Tom Hastings finally meets his match.

John Dunning creates flesh-and-blood figures, not only of these fictional characters but of historical personages as well. There is John Galen Locke, the Grand Dragon of the KKK, and Fred Bonfils, a founder of a newspaper dynasty built on tabloid sensationalism; President Calvin Coolidge, too, makes a gruff appearance.

Denver is a panoramic novel as vibrant as the city for which it is named, as tumultuous as the era in which it is set. John Dunning never lets the reader lose sight of the men and women who live their lives on the pages of this saga. While crosses burst into angry flames and menacing droves of white-robed Klansmen gather against the torch-lit skies, passions, fears, joys, and hates are played out in Denver in the 1920s.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (Dec 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451626134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451626131
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #890,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Dunning 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.
Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I expected better April 15 2011
By Frederick A. Smith - Published on
I debated with myself for a few days about writing this review. I really liked John Dunning's previous works, and looked forward to this novel with great anticipation. After finishing it, I didn't want the only review of this work to be negative; but since no one else has written one, I will start.
There is no need for a "Spoiler Alert" about how the book ends; because it realy doesn't have an ending. It just kind of stops. There are a lot of open issues that go unresolved.
There are too many characters for any of them to be developed successfully.
One relatively major character in the beginning of the novel sort of disappears, and never shows up again except in letters written to his father.
Others have their lives ended in ways that don't seem to be "in character", or plausible.
In my opinion, there were too many vignettes and encounters that added nothing to the novel (i.e. Calvin Coolidge), and took up pages that could have been better served on a more satisfying conclusion, or explanations for some other character's behavior.
It was a hate filled, corrupt and bleak time; but I got that in about 100 pages. The rest was just "piling on", for no apparent reason.
I hope someone else will read, and comment on this book; because Dunning is better than this, and maybe I missed the point.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethralling Sept. 4 2012
By C. Cubberley - Published on
I really got caught up in this book. Yes, there are a lot of characters, but they are listed at the beginning, and if you get confused about who's who, it's easy to flip back and refresh your memory. I often have to do this for myself with other books. The book is relavatory about the KKK and the way it operated in Denver in the 1920s. Another reviewer said the book doesn't end, but just stops. That's the way life is. There were many resolutions, some characters were dead, but life would continue on for those remaining. I often stop reading a book if it doesn't hold my interest. This is one I picked up every chance I got, and at one point I was begging a character, "No, no - don't get on that train."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where's he gone Jan. 16 2014
By Susan Baus - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everything I have read by John Dunning is masterfully crafted. Has he stopped writing? What a loss if he has.
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction July 24 2014
By Steve P - Published on
It is more muddled and complicated than a Bookman story. I see references to actual KKK stories from Indiana. I think Dunning took those stories and transferred them to Denver.

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