Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning

Cliff Janeway was a homicide cop.  Now he's a bookman--a rare book dealer--in Denver, who scouts out and sells rare books, appraises collections, and oh yes, investigates the occasional book-related murder.  Indeed, a love of books can be that dangerous.  

The Bookwoman's Last Fling finds Janeway called out to a horse farm in Idaho to assess a library.  Patriarch H. R. Geiger has recently died and Junior Willis--for three decades Geiger's right hand man, horse trainer, and now executor of his will--has been tasked with tracking down several volumes from the late Candice Geiger's library which have gone missing over recent years.  Candice has been dead for thirty years, but despite the missing tomes her library stands as one of the finest collections of classic children's literature to be found.  Janeway learns, as well, that there is some mystery surrounding Candice's death, although it had been ruled an accident--she died of an allergic reaction to peanuts--at the time.  Some called it suicide; after all, she knew what foods to avoid too well to have eaten any of them accidentally, and she kept an emergency kit at hand at all times, as well.  Some whispered about murder, although who would have wanted to murder this lovely, bookish, horse-loving woman none could say.

To investigate the missing books Janeway immerses himself in the world of horse racing.  He goes out on the circuit, getting himself hired on to walk hot horses, and in the process gets to know the people who knew the people who surrounded Candice Geiger, putting himself in danger more than once as he gets closer to the truth.

In addition to his deep knowledge of books and the book world, Dunning has first-hand knowledge of the world of horse racing, and writes of it with loving and fascinating detail.  He tosses around horse and racing jargon (and thankfully defines it), and beautifully portrays the camaraderie of the shedrow, an insular world of horse lovers which is lavishly salted with misfits and eccentrics of all sorts.  And he writes a damned good mystery in the process.    


1 comment:

The Book Bee said...


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