THE BOOKMAN'S WAKE by John Dunning


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 Something special looms for Denver book-dealer Cliff Janeway (who debuted in Booked to Die, 1992) when an old non-friend p.i., perching in his doorway as portentously as Poe's Raven, enlists him to fly to Seattle to retrieve Eleanor Rigby, a young woman wanted for a burglary and shooting in Taos. The job couldn't be simpler, it seems, so Janeway jets to dank Seattle, gets one look at the subject, and decides he prefers her to Ruel Pruitt, the slimy shamus who's run her to earth. Instead of escorting her back to New Mexico justice, Janeway lets Eleanor take him home to her warm, loving family of printers, and falls into a pit of deepening mystery and monomania. The man at the heart of the mystery is the late Darryl Grayson, whose limited editions are to die for--or, in one case at least, to kill for, as Janeway begins to realize when Eleanor, terrified of the ``darkman'' who's stalking her, slips away from him and gets picked up by Pruitt and two sidekicks, one of whom doesn't survive the night. There'll be revelations of other murders too--a harmless bookseller; five recipients of what might be Grayson's storied final, and most drastically limited, edition; and, according to Grayson biographer Trish Aandahl, Grayson and his rakish brother Richard as well. But murder is only the sign of the deeper evil that emerges as Dunning weirdly and wonderfully intersperses publishing arcana with fisticuffs, gunplay, and an impossibly dense plot, until he has you believing the unspeakable things his obsessional cast would do for a single precious book. Mad, fantastical, and darkly original. Bookbinding has never been so spellbinding. (Mystery Guild main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80003-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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