As a young man, New York Times bestselling author John Dunning earned his living for several years working behind the scenes on the racetrack circuit. Now he brings his memories of the horse world and his expertise in collectible books to this mesmerizing new Bookman novel rich with the lore of both books and horses. . . .
Denver bookman Cliff Janeway would have liked Candice Geiger. She loved books with a true bookwoman's passion. Her collection of first-edition children's books is the best that Janeway ever hopes to see. Sadly, Janeway and Candice Geiger will never meet. She died much too young. Now, twenty years later, her books remain a testament to an extraordinary woman's remarkable vision.
Janeway first learns about the juvenilia collection when Candice's elderly husband, H. R. Geiger, passes away and Janeway travels to their Idaho home to assess the collection. The estate can't be distributed until the books are valued, so there's pressure on Janeway to do the job quickly. But one look at the books tells Janeway something's wrong. Valuable titles are missing, replaced by cheap reprints. Other hugely valuable pieces remain. Why would a thief take one priceless book and leave an equally valuable volume on the shelf?
The answer may lie in Candice's story. The daughter of a wealthy industrialist, she married horse owner and trainer H. R. Geiger at a young age. They traveled the racetrack circuit with some success, as evidenced by winner's-circle photographs -- in which Candice is always a mysterious background figure dressed in white.
Two decades after Candice's strange death, Janeway finds himself deep in a book mystery that may turn out to be much more than a cataloging exercise. It may even involve murder. Candice's daughter, Sharon, may be one of the few people who can help Janeway discover the truth. Sharon has her own Idaho ranch where she takes in sick and injured horses. Janeway worries that her house contains something that could make her very vulnerable: half of her mother's fabulous book collection.
The trail of Candice's shadowy past leads Janeway to California's Golden Gate and Santa Anita racetracks, where he signs on as a racehorse hot walker. A novice at racetrack life, he tries to remain inconspicuous while listening to the chatter among the hands. He doesn't like what he hears. And when he goes to the house where Candice died to look for answers, he finds more than he bargained for.
With its rich mix of books and horses, The Bookwoman's Last Fling is a classic entry in John Dunning's acclaimed Bookman series of suspense novels, sure to bring this superbly talented author even more accolades.
Bestseller Dunning scores another triumph with his fifth mystery (after 2005's The Sign of the Book) to feature Cliff Janeway, a former homicide detective who has found a second career as an antiquarian book dealer but who hasn't quite lost his taste for police work. Janeway receives an invitation from wealthy horse trainer H.R. Geiger to come to Idaho to appraise his book collection, but by the time Janeway arrives, his host is dead. He winds up tracking down some rare volumes that have vanished and probing the decades-old death of Geiger's wife, a wealthy heiress who collected valuable juvenile fiction. When a fresh body turns up and Janeway himself almost falls victim to a killer, the bibliophile detective finds that his decision to pursue the truth puts him at odds with his longstanding significant other. Dunning's exceptional gifts at plotting and characterization should help win him many new readers, while the horse-racing angle is sure to lure Dick Francis fans.