Friday, June 11, 2010

Booked to Die

by John Dunning

Thumbs Up.

This is the first in the Cliff Janeway mystery series.  When the book opens, Mr. Janeway is a homicide detective with the Denver Police Department.  He also loves books.  He loves to read and discuss them; he collects first editions.

Janeway has a long running relationship with serial killer, Jackie Newton.   Janeway just can't seem to pin anything on Jackie.  Nothing sticks to the guy.  Janeway is getting a little burned out on the whole following the system thing.  He knows Jackie is guilty, but can never seem to get the evidence he needs in the legal ways.  He becomes increasingly more tempted to go outside the system and take care of the creep the old fashion way.

All this eventually leads to the opening of a new bookstore, several ladies, and several murders.   The murders are all intertwined with the world of book collecting.  It's fun to read about love for books and how that comes through in a variety of ways in different people's lives.

The mystery itself is good and keeps a reader guessing.  I found the characters somewhat remote.  I think it's because of the noir flavor of Dunning's writing.  The attitude is somewhat dark.    The characters have psychoses similar to those of characters in Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe books.  They are not light-hearted murder mysteries, but instead they are somewhat oppressive in their feel. 

I will probably read another at some point to see how Janeway's character evolves.   The subject matter is interesting enough and the plots suspenseful enough to overlook the heavy hearted mood they elicit.

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