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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning

The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel by John Dunning. New York: Scribner, 2004. ISBN: 0-7432-4992-5

Another marvelous Janeway novel to be savored by Dunning fans. This one probably qualifies as a thriller as well as a mystery. Janeway gets involved in the lore surrounding Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890), the famous explorer, adventurer, scholar, writer, linguist, translator and more. Burton traveled in the American West in 1860, but this book has him also traveling in the South with a new-made American friend, and suggests that he might have had a peripheral role in starting the Civil War!

The modern part of the story revolves around an elderly woman whose dying wish is that Janeway recover her grandfather's collection of Burton first editions which she believes were stolen from her family years before. Janeway also meets and begins to fall in love with the lovely lawyer and sometimes author escort, Erin d'Angelo.

Toss in some flaky book dealers from Baltimore and a really mean thug who pals around with one of them, and invariably, a murder, and, well—you get the picture. I enjoyed every page of this book, and can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

Some reviewers I saw were disappointed in this book, after waiting so long for it (the two previous Janeway novels were published in 1992 and 1995, respectively), but not me. They complained that there wasn't enough book collecting lore in this volume. That's as may be, but it's Dunning's style that I enjoy, and the romance of rediscovering a bit of lost 19th century history makes just as enticing a milieu, so far as I'm concerned.

I recommend this volume highly to anyone who enjoyed the first two Cliff Janeway mysteries.


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