From New York Times bestselling author John Dunning comes a riveting
new Cliff Janeway Bookman novel, combining captivating book lore with
Denver bookman and ex-cop Cliff Janeway is enjoying the good life, buying and selling the books he adores as he ekes out a living in his store on seedy East Colfax. And it doesn't hurt that superstar lawyer Erin D'Angelo has joined him as a partner in both business and love.
Erin is a special lady, so it's hard for Janeway to refuse her when she asks a favor. Will he travel to the little mountain town of Paradise, Colorado, to check on one of Erin's girlhood friends who's in deep trouble? Laura Marshall sits in the county jail, accused of murdering her husband, Bobby.
The situation is delicate because Bobby and Erin were a couple before he married Laura. In fact, it was Laura's affair with Bobby that ended Erin's relationship with each of them, and the women have been estranged ever since. Now Laura has called on Erin for help, but Erin's not sure she even wants to see her onetime best friend, let alone get involved in her case. Could Janeway visit Laura on Erin's behalf and try to find out what happened the night Bobby died?
The clincher for Janeway: Bobby Marshall was a book collector, and Janeway can't resist a house full of books any more than he can resist Erin's uncharacteristic request. His normally self-sufficient girlfriend is clearly at loose ends. He drives to Paradise the next day.
Janeway soon discovers that neither he nor Erin is likely to be able to save Laura Marshall. The young wife and mother is terrified of something and has already admitted to the arresting officer -- a smarmy local deputy with a huge chip on his shoulder -- that she shot her husband and then tried to dispose of the bloody evidence.
But did everything really happen as Laura claims? And what about the books? Bobby had a vast library, but at a casual glance, the titles seem ordinary, even to a seasoned bookman like Janeway. Could they possibly be a motive for murder?
Janeway, Erin, and local attorney Parley McNamara discover that the case against Laura Marshall is far more complicated than it seems. Professionally, Erin must decide whether to represent Laura; and personally, whether a decades-old friendship can be resurrected. Janeway wants to know the significance of Bobby's book collection. He senses their importance, and under his careful scrutiny, the rows of unremarkable volumes could reveal a killer's motive.
Rich with the intricacies of book collecting that only an expert like John Dunning can offer, The Sign of the Book is a beautifully crafted, enthralling novel of suspense from the consummate bookman himself.
Two years had passed and I knew Erin well. I knew her moods: I knew what she
liked and didn't like, what would bore her to tears or light up her face with
mischief. I knew what would send her into fits of helpless laughter, what would
make her angry, thoughtful, witty, playful, or loving. It takes time to learn
someone, but after two years I could say with some real confidence, I know this
I knew before she said a word that something had messed up her day. She arrived at our bookstore wearing her casual autumn garb, jeans and an untucked flannel shirt.
"What's wrong with you?"
"I am riding on the horns of a dilemma."
I knew she would tell me when she had thought about it. I would add my two cents' worth, she would toss in some wherefores, to which I would add a few interrogatories and lots of footnotes. I am good with footnotes. And after two years I was very good at leaving her alone when all the signs said let her be.
John Dunning is an expert on rare and collectible books and for many
years owned and ran the Old Algonquin Bookstore in Denver with his wife,
Helen. In 1994 he closed the bookstore in order to be able to
spend more time writing, but he and Helen continue to do business online.
Cliff Janeway series
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