The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning (PWBR00154)

Picture of a frog reading a book while sitting on a lilypad with transparent background

Plot or Premise

Cover: The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning

Cliff gets offered a bounty-hunter job by a low-life ex-cop PI-wannabe and he is all prepared to say no — except the skip’s name is Eleanor Rigby and she is running out on a burglary charge, after breaking and entering to steal a rare book. Cliff is hooked.

What I Liked

The story takes a while to get going, and the opening prologue refers to a 20-year-old killing spree so you know there’s a story buried somewhere, all tied to the rare book. The book covers the history of a slightly-mad printer/publisher who created Grayson Press, a creator of fabulous beautiful books in limited runs up until he died in a fire that destroyed the company. And some books that he may or may not have published before the fire. Truly rare birds. Add in some characters like the sleazy PI, Eleanor herself, a biographer with a monkey on his back, and a reporter with the same monkey, and Janeway has some fun. There are two scenes where the life of the book scout comes alive, one spending a day in Seattle’s book biz looking for books and one where some biographical info of Grayson’s turns up. You feel almost breathless, just as Janeway does. And somewhere in the midst of all of it is a serial murderer.

What I Didn’t Like

The story lags in a few places, including complicated personal stories around the Grayson biographical info, and an extra action scene or two that are unwarranted simply because they do nothing to advance the story. The final wrap-up is a bit too formulaic in delivering some action, but it gets the job done.

The Bottom Line

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