Summary and book reviews of The Sign of The Book by John Dunning

The Sign of The Book

A Cliff Janeway Bookman Novel

by John Dunning

The Sign of The Book
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2006, 544 pages

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Book Summary

Rich with the intricacies of book collecting that only an expert like John Dunning can offer, this is a beautifully crafted, enthralling novel of suspense from the consummate bookman himself.

From New York Times bestselling author John Dunning comes a riveting new Cliff Janeway Bookman novel, combining captivating book lore with page-turning suspense.

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.

Chapter 1

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 woman well.

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.

She picked...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Booklist - Bill Ott

This is the kind of thing Janeway fans love juicy nuggets of bibliophile gold. That these tasty morsels come wrapped in serviceable crime plots involving tough guys, gutsy gals, and snappy patter makes the pleasure of devouring them all the sweeter.

Publishers Weekly

Starred review. The book-related plot is somewhat arbitrarily grafted onto the main narrative, but Dunning writes with such confidence and assurance the reader cannot help being drawn into this compelling whodunit.

Kirkus Reviews

The clever mystery is neither dense nor twisty enough to rank with Dunning's best work and the final revelation is one too many. But Janeway is as resourceful as ever, and the usual irresistible asides on the book trade will make this the most enthusiastically hand-sold title of the season.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

great climax
The Sign of the Book is the 4th book in the Cliff Janeway series by John Dunning. Cliff agrees to help Erin determine if her estranged childhood friend, Laura Marshall, really killed her husband, or confessed to protect her troubled son. The tempter ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

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.

Bibliography

Cliff Janeway series

  • Booked To Die (1992), The Bookman's Wake (1995), The Bookman's Promise (2004), The Sign of the Book (2005), The Bookwoman's Last Fling (2006).
Other Novels
  • The Holland Suggestions (1974), Looking for Ginger North: One Man's Violent Journey Into His Past-a High Voltage Novel of Suspense. (1980), ...

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