The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel Mass Market Paperback – Jan 25 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
In Nero Wolfe Award winner Dunning's third literate entry in his Cliff Janeway series (after Booked to Die and The Bookman's Wake), 90-ish Josephine Gallant persuades the former Denver cop turned antiquarian bookseller to try to recover a rare collection of the works of Richard Burton, "the explorer, not the actor," that once belonged to her grandfather, a faithful traveling companion of Burton. Eager to fulfill his pledge to Ms. Gallant, who expires soon after their meeting, Janeway begins an investigation that takes him to a seedy used bookshop and other strange haunts in Baltimore, where he runs into a shady writer and a gang of thugs who are obviously looking for the same literary treasures. Midway through the often rambling narrative, a flashback to 1860 steps up the pace when Burton undertakes a possible espionage mission to the South for the British prime minister and encounters Captain Abner Doubleday, who solicits his advice on the defense of Fort Sumter. Two well-intentioned women join Janeway for the final search through historic Charleston, with the inevitable romantic interludes. Too many extraneous characters and some tedious dialogue slow the action, but the book-collecting background is sure to appeal to a wide range of mystery readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's been eight long years since the last Cliff Janeway mystery, starring Denver's only tough-guy antiquarian bookseller. The former homicide cop is thrilled with his purchase of a first edition by nineteenth-century explorer Richard Burton, but the book brings more grief than it does pleasure. After an elderly woman arrives in Janeway's store claiming that the Burton belongs to her, our bibliophile-sleuth finds himself in the middle of a nasty feud between book collectors that stretches back generations and culminates with an all-stops-out climax at Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston. The text jumps between Janeway's search for answers and the story of Burton's undocumented trip to America just before the Civil War. Is there, Janeway is determined to discover, an unpublished journal that documents the explorer's whereabouts during his so-called lost years? Devoted fans of this series have been craving a new installment, and they won't be a bit disappointed by this compelling mix of hard-boiled action and exquisitely musty book lore. Like Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series starring the rough-hewn Cockney antiques dealer, the Janeway novels avoid the wussy, Masterpiece Theatre-like decorum that too often sinks bibliophile crime stories. Along with plenty of muscle-flexing, there's also enough sex here to remind us that the antiquarian's life can still be robust. The combination of Burton the adventurer-author and Janeway the cop-bookseller is a match made in crime-fiction heaven. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
What a disappointment. Gone are the details of the rare book world that made "Booked to Die" so fascinating; gone is the careful delineation of Janeway's initially-complex character.
In their place is a superficial tough-guy private eye caper, complete with scumbag gangsters (in the rare book world, mind you), macho posturing, and that annoying rapid-fire repartee without which private dicks are apparently not allowed to beat up crooks.
According to the bookjacket, Dunning is working on Cliff Janeway #4. But I doubt I'll be reading it, now that Cliff has become just another Spenser clone. I'd suggest that Dunning and Parker collaborate on a cross-over, except that the characters would probably do nothing but trade smart remarks while they punch the crap out of each other.
There is one section, Burton and Charlie, in Promise that is a roadblock for the reader. Much of the book is set in the present, told in first person. But in the middle, Dunning shifts to Civil War days, and allows another character to take over the book narrator's first person voice -- rather jarring, a clumsy way to write fiction, and a reason to put down The Bookman's Promise.
This novel flows more easily than the first two mysteries, I thought; apparently Mr. Dunning has found his stride. The reader learns a lot about Richard Burton; and for those who want to know more about this interesting individual, the author gives a list for further reading at the end of the book.
I must say I missed all the referenes to book publishers and first editions and prices that were so entertaining in the first two books of this series and for the most part are absent here, although Mr. Dunning does make a couple of digs at St. Martin's Press.
I think, this is a forced book. The writing is stilted, who writes, "I'll come and tear your heart out," in 2004? Almost none of the Janeway asides on books and First Editions are present. It involves Richard Burton-the explorer. There is almost nothing new or of note in the book about one of the most interesting men of the Victorian Era. That part of the narrative is flat like women's old fashioned shoes.
Where is the mystery? What, even, is the mystery about? Burton's presence in the USA around the beginning of the Civil War? The twist here is ludicrous.
It is just a routine watered down thriller by a writer trying to revive flagging skills. One wonders how did this writer produce the last two Janeway books? Two O'Clock Eastern War Time, Mr. Dunning's last book, had a great narrative punch and style. This one has no heart or one with seriously clogged arteries.
Despite all the other glowing reviews (perhaps they are still smitten by the magic of the first Cliff Janeway in years), I put the book down with disappointment. Perhaps the new Michael Connelly will console this inveterate detective novel reader.
Sorry, Mr. Dunning.
Most recent customer reviews
The Janeway series is just wonderful. Really glad I stumbled on it in a used book store. Wish there were more of them. Only 5 to date.Published on May 11 2011 by Stewie
Perhaps it was because I was expecting a disaster--after all, an ex-cop turned antique book dealer! Come on! Read morePublished on June 20 2004
When ex-cop turned bookman Cliff Janeway takes a giant step into serious collecting, his $30,000 purchase of a volume by British explorer Richard Burton lands him in a quagmire of... Read morePublished on May 23 2004 by Lynn Harnett
The third "bookman's" novel finds Cliff Janeway chasing high-end collectibles by the explorer Richard Burton. Read morePublished on May 22 2004 by Ellen Etc.
This was my first Cliff Janeway novel and I'm very satisfied with this book. I'm recommending this one to all my friends who like me enjoy a good mystery with a bit of romance and... Read morePublished on May 17 2004 by Chuck
The newest Janeway thriller -- the first in almost a decade -- finds the bookman chasing mysteries in two centuries -- and both are winners. Read morePublished on April 29 2004 by Michael Schau
The BOOKMAN'S PROMISE is an unusual mystery in a lot of ways. Although the lead character will remind you of Travis McGee in respect to his physical prowess and verbal dexterity,... Read morePublished on April 14 2004 by Dave Schwinghammer
This is a book I've looked forward to for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning is a continuation of the Cliff Janeway series, and I really... Read morePublished on April 12 2004 by Thomas Duff
Perhaps it was because I was expecting a disaster--after all, an ex-cop turned antique book dealer! Come on! Read morePublished on April 7 2004