Criminal defense attorney Erin D'Angelo, Cliff's bookstore partner, needs a favor. Her first true love, Robert Marshall, has been murdered, and his wife Laura has confessed. But Erin smells something fishy. She asks Cliff to investigate, which he is more than willing to do when he learns the victim left behind an amazing collection of signed books. If the books are genuine, they are definitely worth killing for.
Turns out that the woman is the former best friend of Janeway's girlfriend, Erin. The friendship ended when Erin's friend slept with and married Erin's fiancé. After some very uncomfortable meetings, Erin is enlisted to defend the woman along with the help of local attorney, Parley McNamera. They all believe that Laura confessed to the murder of her husband to protect the real killer, her autistic adopted son. Even though Janeway is itching to get at the huge collection of signed first editions in the deceased's library, he knows that he's got to find the real killer first. What he doesn't know is that the books and the murder are linked.
Dunning's Janeway mysteries are among my very favorites. I've been diligently sampling new mystery series for the past three years, and this is one of the few that I've kept current on, which should tell you something. I love mysteries that combine two of my addictions: puzzles and books. An added bonus with Dunning is that his character of Cliff Janeway vaguely reminds me of another favorite literary character, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch.
I was very pleased with this book. I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but I will have to go back and catch up now. This is also my first John Dunning book, but definitely won't be my last. I love his writing style. It is easy to read and hard to put down. His characters are well developed and witty.
I am glad I bought this book, and I will be glad to recommend it and pass it along.
The clues in the mystery sneak up on you. After we meet the accused, the events of the night are exposed slowly, allowing the reader's theories to change and evolve as more is revealed. I thought the mystery was interesting, although a little too much time was spent on Janeway chasing the three book sellers he suspects. That seems like a big detour, but is an important part of the story.
Good book mystery, poor murder mystery
PLOT OR PREMISE:
Cliff's friend Erin asks him to go help an old girlfriend charged with murdering her husband. It seems like a strange request considering the woman stole Erin's boyfriend, i.e. the dead guy, and they haven't spoken since.
WHAT I LIKED:
I am a bit of a sucker for stories involving unresolved emotional stories, and the story has a bit of that rolling around in it. There are even BOOKS, gasp, BOOKS involved in the story (shocker, right? The guy had a lot of high-end signed copies of middle-of-the-road scarce books, too many for a small-timer). So of course there are two stories -- the death of the husband and the mystery of the signed books.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
There is a bent local sheriff's deputy who is almost a caricature at times, and the sub-story of the autistic boy is handled a little manipulatively (shows his grandparents are evil, for no real purpose -- they didn't need to be in the story at all -- and two other kids that are referred to but hardly seen) plus he isn't just autistic, more like Rain Man with drawing, of course. And the ending for the murder mystery is written taut, and supposedly riveting, but I just found it ridiculous.
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.
Because the story involves books, book selling, and murder I found this one right up my alley. I will definitely be looking for more by this author!!