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The Bookman's Promise (Cliff Janeway Series #3)

The Bookman's Promise (Cliff Janeway Series #3)

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by John Dunning

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Cliff Janeway is back! The Bookman's Promise marks the eagerly awaited return of Denver bookman-author John Dunning and the award-winning crime novel series that helped to turn the nation on to first-edition book collecting.
First, it was Booked to Die, then The Bookman's Wake. Now John Dunning fans, old and new, will rejoice in The


Cliff Janeway is back! The Bookman's Promise marks the eagerly awaited return of Denver bookman-author John Dunning and the award-winning crime novel series that helped to turn the nation on to first-edition book collecting.
First, it was Booked to Die, then The Bookman's Wake. Now John Dunning fans, old and new, will rejoice in The Bookman's Promise, a richly nuanced new Janeway novel that juxtaposes past and present as Denver ex-cop and bookman Cliff Janeway searches for a book and a killer.
The quest begins when an old woman, Josephine Gallant, learns that Janeway has recently bought at auction a signed first edition by the legendary nineteenth-century explorer Richard Francis Burton. The book is a true classic, telling of Burton's journey (disguised as a Muslim) to the forbidden holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Boston auction house was a distinguished and trustworthy firm, but provenance is sometimes murky and Josephine says the book is rightfully hers.
She believes that her grandfather, who was living in Baltimore more than eighty years ago, had a fabulous collection of Burton material, including a handwritten journal allegedly detailing Burton's undercover trip deep into the troubled American South in 1860. Josephine remembers the books from her childhood, but everything mysteriously disappeared shortly after her grandfather's death.
With little time left in her own life, Josephine begs for Janeway's promise: he must find her grandfather's collection. It's a virtually impossible task, Janeway suspects, as the books will no doubt have been sold and separated over the years, but how can he say no to a dying woman?
It seems that her grandfather, Charlie Warren, traveled south with Burton in the spring of 1860, just before the Civil War began. Was Burton a spy for Britain? What happened during the three months in Burton's travels for which there are no records? How did Charlie acquire his unique collection of Burton books? What will the journal, if it exists, reveal?
When a friend is murdered, possibly because of a Burton book, Janeway knows he must find the answers. Someone today is willing to kill to keep the secrets of the past, and Janeway's search will lead him east: To Baltimore, to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a very stuffed shirt, and to a pair of unorthodox booksellers. It reaches a fiery conclusion at Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
What's more, a young lawyer, Erin d'Angelo, and ex-librarian Koko Bujak, have their own reasons for wanting to find the journal. But can Janeway trust them?
Rich with the insider's information on rare and collectible books that has made John Dunning famous, and with meticulously researched detail about a mesmerizing figure who may have played an unrecognized role in our Civil War, The Bookman's Promise is riveting entertainment from an extraordinarily gifted author who is as unique and special as the books he so clearly loves.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
This third installment in John Dunning's imaginative and engaging Bookman series (following The Bookman's Wake) is centered on a book that could change the face of American history: an inscribed edition of a travel journal by 19th-century British explorer Richard Burton.

Cliff Janeway, former Denver homicide cop turned antiquarian bookseller, discovers that the rare Burton book he's just won at auction may in fact be owned by Josephine Gallant, an elderly woman whose grandfather accompanied the explorer on his little-known journey through the pre–Civil War South. Gallant informs Janeway that her grandfather owned a priceless collection of Burton's works that remained in the family for years before falling prey to a pair of conniving booksellers. As the old woman lies dying, Janeway sets off to recover the books -- but not before a close friend is murdered and a mysterious figure begins to stalk everyone connected to the collection.

A heady mix of historical intrigue and contemporary suspense, Dunning's tale draws us into a unique world inhabited by fascinating and believable characters. Bibiliophiles, and mystery lovers alike will find The Bookman's Promise a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.

The New York Times
Two sudden deaths spur Janeway's hunt for the lost library, which is exciting in an erudite way but overshadowed by the remarkable narrative (introduced midbook) of Charles Warren, a Baltimore bibliophile who was befriended by Burton during his visit to America in 1860 and accompanied the explorer on a history-altering trip to Charleston on the eve of the Civil War. Despite its fanciful premise, this ''discovered'' account of Warren's eventful journey into the Deep South should inspire book hounds to keep sniffing through those musty libraries. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
The Bookman's Promise itself is a volume that fans of the "Bookman" series will be delighted to add to their crime libraries. In addition to serving up the familiar trademarks of this series -- Janeway's rueful worldview and the enlightening tidbits about rare books scattered throughout the story -- the novel ambitiously conjures up a lost journal about Burton's rumored espionage work in the American South on the eve of the Civil War. As gilding on the pages here, Janeway even finds romance in this latest outing -- with a woman who can quote James M. Cain, no less! — Maureen Corrigan
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. (Mar. 9) FYI: Dunning's last novel was Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime (2001), about old-time radio. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Denver cop-turned-antiquarian book dealer Cliff Janeway promises a dying woman he will recover books stolen from her family 80 years earlier. This material by Sir Richard Burton was collected by her grandfather, who traveled the American South with the famed British explorer in 1860. Cliff's investigation takes him to Baltimore and Charleston, SC, as he encounters a duplicitous Pulitzer Prize winner and a gang of vicious thugs. Among the many highlights of this engrossing mystery are the local color of Charleston, where Dunning grew up, and a flashback to Burton's meeting with U.S. Army Captain Abner Doubleday and his possible contribution to the start of the War Between the States. George Guidall is one of the greatest readers of audiobooks, but the folksy approach that works so well with Lilian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who" series clashes somewhat with Dunning's much harder edge. Recommended, nevertheless, for popular collections. Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
That eminent Victorian scholar-adventurer, Sir Richard Burton, is both subject and role model for antiquarian bookseller Cliff Janeway's long-awaited third case. Flush with reward money from his Seattle caper (The Bookman's Wake, 1995), ex-Denver homicide cop Janeway splurges on an inscribed copy of Burton's Pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca. Soon thereafter he gets an unannounced visit from Josephine Gallant, ancient granddaughter of Charles Warren-the American companion to Burton's storied but mysteriously unwritten 1860 tour of South Carolina-who tells Janeway she once owned the book he's purchased and begs him to recover the rest of her library of Burtoniana, lost decades ago to a swindling family of Baltimore booksellers. Learning that nefarious Dean and Carl Treadwell are still carrying on the family business under the same roof, Janeway takes off for the East Coast, but not before his quest, in the first of many well-planned surprises, claims the life of an innocent friend. The ensuing blend of historical pastiche and violence is so satisfying that most readers will overlook or forgive the scant connection between the breathless present-day search for Burton's lost memoir of his southern journey and the revelation of what's between that book's covers: news that Burton may have played a part in igniting the war. Though not as tightly wound as Janeway's first two adventures, this one is still endlessly inventive, exhilarating, and literate. Quite a knockout punch for a used bookseller. Agent: Anthony Goff/David Higham Associates

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Cliff Janeway Series , #3
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Read an Excerpt

The Bookman's Promise

A Cliff Janeway Novel
By John Dunning


Copyright © 2004 John Dunning
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7432-4992-5


The man said, "Welcome to Book Beat, Mr. Janeway" and this was how it began.

We were sitting in a Boston studio before the entire invisible listening audience of National Public Radio. I was here against my better judgment, and my first words into the microphone, "Just don't call me an expert on anything," staked out the conditions under which I had become such an unlikely guest. Saying it now into the microphone had a calming effect, but the man's polite laugh again left me exposed on both flanks. Not only was I an expert, his laugh implied, I was a modest one. His opening remarks deepened my discomfort.

"Tonight we are departing from our usual talk about current books. As many of you know, our guest was to have been Allen Gleason, author of the surprising literary bestseller, Roses for Adessa. Unfortunately, Mr. Gleason suffered a heart attack last week in New York, and I know all of you join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

"In his absence we are lucky to have Mr. Cliff Janeway, who came to Boston just this week to buy a very special book. And I should add that this is a show, despite its spontaneous scheduling, that I have long wanted to do. As fascinating as the world of new books can often be, the world of older books, of valuable first editions and treasures recently out of print, has a growing charm for many of our listeners. Mr. Janeway, I wonder if you would answer a basic question before we dive deeper into this world. What makes a valuable book valuable?"

This was how it began: with a simple, innocent question and a few quick answers. We talked for a while about things I love best, and the man was so good that we soon seemed like two old bookscouts hunkered down together after a friendly hunt. I talked of supply and demand, of classics and genres and modern first editions: why certain first editions by Edgar Rice Burroughs are worth more than most Mark Twains, and how crazy the hunt can get. I told him about the world I now lived in, and it was easy to avoid the world I'd come from. This was a book show, not a police lineup, and I was an antiquarian bookseller, not a cop.

"I understand you live in Denver, Colorado."

"When I'm hiding out from the law, that's where I hide."

Again the polite laugh. "You say you're no expert, but you were featured this week in a very bookish article in The Boston Globe."

"That guy had nothing better to do. He's a book freak and the paper was having what they call a slow news day."

"The two of you met at a book auction, I believe. Tell us about that."

"I had come here to buy a book. We got to talking and the next thing I knew, I was being interviewed."

"What book did you come to buy?"

"Pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca by Richard Burton."

"The explorer, not the actor."

We shared a knowing laugh, then he said, "What is it about this book that made you fly all the way from Denver to buy it? And to pay - how much was it? - if you don't mind my asking ..."

Auction prices were public knowledge, so there was no use being coy. I said, "Twenty-nine thousand five hundred," and gave up whatever modesty I might have had. Only an expert pays that much money for a book. Or a fool.

I might have told him that there were probably dozens of dealers in the United States whose knowledge of Burton ran deeper than mine. I could have said yes, I had studied Burton intensely for two months, but two months in the book trade or in any scholarly pursuit is no time at all. I should have explained that I had bought the book with Indian money, but then I'd need to explain that concept and the rest of the hour would have been shot talking about me.

Instead I talked about Burton, master linguist, soldier, towering figure of nineteenth-century letters and adventure. I watched the clock as I talked and I gave him the shortest-possible version of Burton's incredible life. I couldn't begin to touch even the high spots in the time we had left.

"You've brought this book with you tonight."

We let the audience imagine it as I noisily unwrapped the three volumes in front of the microphone. My host got up from his side of the table and came around to look while I gave the audience a brief description of the books, with emphasis on the original blue cloth binding lettered in brilliant gilt and their unbelievably pristine condition.

The man said, "They look almost new."

"Yeah," I said lovingly.

"I understand there's something special about them, other than their unusual freshness."

I opened volume one and he sighed. "Aaahh, it's signed by the author. Would you read that for us, please?"

"'To Charles Warren,'" I read: "'A grand companion and the best kind of friend. Our worlds are far apart and we may never see each other again, but the time we shared will be treasured forever. Richard F. Burton.' It's dated January 15, 1861."

"Any idea who this Warren fellow was?"

"Not a clue. He's not mentioned in any of the Burton biographies."

"You would agree, though, that that's an unusually intimate inscription."

I did agree, but I was no expert. The man said, "So we have a mystery here as well as a valuable book," and it all began then. Its roots went back to another time, when Richard Francis Burton met his greatest admirer and then set off on a secret journey, deep into the troubled American South. Because of that trip a friend of mine died. An old woman found peace, a good man lost everything, and I rediscovered myself on my continuing journey across the timeless, infinite world of books.


Excerpted from The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning Copyright © 2004 by John Dunning. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet 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; and the New York Times 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 lives in Denver, Colorado. Visit OldAlgonquin.com.

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The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Third book in the series takes us to Charleston with a bunch of nasty booksellers/thugs from Baltimore in tow.
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