Cliff Janeway, once a Denver homicide detective, now the owner of a used book store, travels to Idaho to appraise and investigate a rare book collection for the estate of a recently deceased racehorse trainer. The books were assembled by his late wife, the bookwoman of the title, who died from her peanut allergy many years before. Now it turns out that some of the valuable first editions have been stolen and replaced with cheaper reprints, and there are some people who wonder who fed her those peanuts in the first place.
I first became aware of John Dunning's series of Janeway mysteries back when I was working in a bookstore myself; booksellers in particular were interested in the series, for obvious reasons. The character of Janeway reminds me vaguely of Robert Parker's Spenser, if only because they share a certain erudition you don't always find in hardboiled detectives.
This particular volume combines the book mystery with the horse racing setting, à la Dick Francis, whom I also love. Can't go wrong with that, even though I did guess the villain about halfway through purely from the Law of Conservation of Characters.
Originally posted at MySpace on 6/22/06