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The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel Mass Market Paperback – Jan 25 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; 1st Pocket Books Pbk. Ed edition (Jan. 25 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743476298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743476294
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #978,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Some years ago, a bookseller told me that John Dunning had decided not to continue the Cliff Janeway series. I was really sorry, because I had so enjoyed the two Janeway novels. Thus when I saw the announcement of "Bookman's Promise," I was thrilled. I ordered the book and read it at once.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
A new John Dunning book, one to take its place next to Booked to Die and The Bookman's Wake, had been much anticipated for a number of years. I bought, and read it, as soon as it was available. The best I can say about The Bookman's Promise is that it's as good as many mystery books being published today. Yet it falls short of Dunning's other two Cliff Janeway novels, especially Booked to Die which I consider the best Dunning work. If you've not read Dunning, maybe you shouldn't start with Booked to Die and/or The Bookman's Wake. These two are much better reads, and might ruin The Bookman's Promise for you. But why read an inferior Dunning book considering his best two books are available as a package?
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Cliff Janeway is back with a fury. Mr. Dunning begins this novel in 1987 in Denver, the home of Janeway's bookstore. Then the policeman-turned-bookseller travels to Baltimore, Charleston and then back to Denver in his quest to find the murderer of Denise Ralston, who Janeway believes was murdered because the assailant thought she had a rare book by Sir Richard Burton, the l9th Century English writer, not the 20th Century actor, as Dunning would say. To paraphrase Faulker, "once a cop, always a cop" as Janeway's sleuthing skills come back to him. He sets about to solve the several mysteries here in a deliberate, meticulous fashion. As we have come to expect from Dunning's two previous novels, Janeway's relationship with a woman he pursues is rocky. And THE BOOKMAN'S PROMISE ends on a cliffhanger!
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved the first two Bookman novels. Booked to Die is absolutely fantastic, and The Bookman's Wake is labyrinthine and vastly enjoyable. So what went wrong?
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.
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Format: Hardcover
After an eight year wait, John Dunning returns to his Bookman character, Cliff Janeway in a new novel that catapults the reader into a variety of worlds. First, there is the world of the book scout where the author describes finding and collecting valuable books. Janeway is now a bookstore owner and his purchase of a first edition of 19th century daredevil, linguist and explorer Richard Francis Burton leads to a radio interview, which gets picked up by newspapers on a slow news day and the publicity attracts a woman in her 90s who claims that the book was part of a collection scammed away from her family by an unscrupulous family of book sellers. A bookperson will be interested in the author's description of writers, collectors, and publishers. The woman introduces the second world, the United States in the 1860s where Burton and her grandfather travel the south and Burton may or may not be a spy for the British. On her deathbed she gives another signed first edition to Janeway on the condition that he will promise to try to find the collection, which has been missing for 80 years. Janeway promises and enters a dangerous world of murder, mobsters and crooked booksellers where nobody is quite what they appear to be. Cracking wise and living dangerously, Janeway follows the clues and his own moral compass to find the collection, track down the murderer of a friend and, he hopes, get the girl. If it is at times difficult to suspend disbelief at some of the plot twists and turns, it is in the end well worth the effort.
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