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Book Review: The Bookman’s Promise

Dunning, who has won the Nero Wolfe Award, wrote Booked to Die and The Bookman’s Wake. Both were excellent. This new book pales, however, in comparison to the two earlier ones.

Dunning owned a Denver bookstore for many years but now does his sales online. I mention this because in each of these books the protagonist is a bookstore owner/book scout, which is probably one of the more compelling parts of the stories, because as a result books and text becomes a main character. This is a refreshing change from suspense stories about serial killers and such.

But Dunning’s weakness – on full display here – is that he knows so much background that he throws it all in there. It’s what I call the Tom Clancy syndrome -throw in all the facts and the reader will love it. Dunning, like Clancy, could use a good editor.

The story – in which the protagonist, Cliff Janaway helps seek out missing or stolen documents – is a good yarn, but all the background about the books and the life of the writer in question makes it seriously drag at times.

If you want to try Dunning I’d start with his earlier books. I’d give those an 8 but this one a 6.
Ed/Pub:NB

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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