12 July 2009

Stories quick and slow

Another weekend at Sidetrack, another stop at the Amery library, another book.

On Friday afternoon, I didn't want to spend much time nosing around the library, so I quickly picked up a John Dunning mystery, The Bookman's Promise. It was on one of the first shelves I looked at.

I was delayed by a greeting from the head librarian, who must have a phenomenal memory for faces, because she recognized me. I'm one of thousands of patrons. I only come in half a dozen times each summer. But we've always had pleasant exchanges as I've checked out or returned books. That woman, whose name I don't know, has to be one of the reasons that the little town of Amery has such a great library.

Back to Dunning's book.

I've read several of his books and enjoyed the stories and the mysteries. Dunning is a book seller like the main character, Cliff Janeway, in his mysteries. Janeway is a former Denver police detective. There's no hint in his bio that Dunning was ever a LEO.

This book is the best of Dunning's I can recall. That's true even though there was a big, ponderous story in the middle of the book about British explorer Richard Burton [right]. The imaginary story is relevant, but the details that Dunning offers aren't. Plod, plod, plod. Skim, skim, skim...

What makes The Bookman's Promise so good is the story told about a supposed notebook belonging to said Burton. Dunning tells that story well and populates it with great characters, some of whom are bad guys, a couple who are good guys, and many others who are suspicious. I was suspicious of nearly every character until the last few pages.

And how can you dislike a story in which Cliff Janeway gets to single-handedly defend Fort Sumter from attackers coming over the wall?

There are minor plausibility problems at a couple points in the story, but I can handle one or two. I don't think either was really necessary, but what do I know?

So I recommend this book highly if you like mysteries. It was published in '04, so there ought to be paperback or used copies around. Go see a bookseller like John Dunning, or check with Amazon using the link below.

For Kindle

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