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The Bookwoman’s Last Fling by John Dunning (PWBR00157)

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

Plot or Premise

Cover: The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning

Janeway is hired to appraise part of an estate, a collection of first-edition children’s books amassed by a woman who died 20 years before. Now the husband has died, and his children want to distribute the money, but first, everything has to be totalled up.

What I Liked

Early on, the case has some interesting bits including discovery that someone has been slowly replacing some of the books with cheap duplicates, but not in any strategic way. Someone who knows something about value, but skipping some obvious choice books. It doesn’t take much for a daughter who also loves books to want Janeway to figure out if the mother was killed, and if so, by who. A bunch of brothers run around, and they’re all a little bit crazy, but who is the craziest? The dead husband was a horseman, and Janeway works for one of the brothers as a stable boy / horse walker to get in with the horse crowd. Reads a lot like a vintage Dick Francis book.

What I Didn’t Like

As with most Janeway novels, there are two mysteries interwoven — the death of the young wife 20 years before and the theft of the children’s books. Unfortunately, the story spends a LONG time with the horse crowd with not much happening. It read more like a personal diary than a mystery novel. Huge stretches of time with NOTHING RELEVANT to the mystery. Equally, neither of the mysteries are unraveled in an interesting way, just plodding in one case and almost happenstance in another. And so obvious for one ending, yet it takes forever to get there. 

The Bottom Line

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