This is a re-issue of the author’s first book, published in 1992, a murder mystery, police procedural, and mighty fine, folks. Mighty fine. It won the Nero Award, and the Dilys Award. I know, I don’t know what they are either, but then, it’s hard keeping up with all the various awards.
Our hero, Cliff Janeway (nifty name, no?), is a homicide detective, has had trouble nailing the prosperous low life who is responsible for a number of murders in the city, finally loses it, catches the guy, takes him out to some remote area and mano a mano, they fight it out, and he beats the kabooble out of the guy. The guy is found, still alive, and claims that Cliff had handcuffed him and beat him with a weapon. Cliff is under investigation, and decides to quit the force.
But you know what? This book is all about book selling. Yeah, how cool is that. It is all about the acquiring of valuable used books, and you might be surprised to know, as was I, that it isn’t just the really old books that are valuable. A lot of current or recent best sellers are, also, if they are pristine first editions, and/or have been signed by the author, etc., and there is an ongoing competition probably in every city, by bookmen who scour the thrift shops, and Goodwill, estate sales, yard sales, etc. looking for that overlooked big money book they can pick up for pennies. And, if this book is to be believed, they can be killed for their valuable collections.
So our boy Cliff opens a used book store starting off with his own personal collection, and before he is even open, a young gal comes in looking for a job and talks him into hiring her. She turns out to be a fast learner and a real asset.
Meanwhile, there is a damsel in distress, (distressed by that nasty a$$ whom Cliff beat up), and he is caught up in that issue, plus right before he quit the force, a raggedly ol bookman, who spent his days looking for the said overlooked treasure with which to make his fortune, is found dead in an alley. Why would anybody kill him? He had nothing, was nothing, and would seem to be harmless. So although now no longer on the force, Cliff continues to investigate the old guy’s murder.
Really good mystery, good characters, and some more dead bodies. What’s a decent murder mystery without a few murders, right? There are five in this series, and he has a number of other books, as well.