John Dunning books in order
John Dunning is an American author of mystery, thriller and detective fiction.
He also penned a couple of non-fiction works.
Born in Brooklyn, New York City, and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Dunning worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, and also owned and operated a bookshop in Denver, Colorado.
His passion for rare books and knowledge of the antiquarian book trade added depth and authenticity to his writing, and he is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable writers in the mystery genre.
A husband, as well as a father to two adult children, John currently lives in Denver, Colorado.
Genres: Crime Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
- The Holland Suggestions (1975)
- Looking for Ginger North (1980)
- Denver (1980)
- Deadline (1981)
- Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime (2001)
- Booked To Die (1992)
- The Bookman's Wake (1992)
- The Bookman's Promise (2004)
- The Sign of the Book (2005)
- The Bookwoman's Last Fling (2006)
- Tune in Yesterday: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, 1925-1976 (1976)
- On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (1998)
- Bookscout (1994)
- Dreamer (2013)
Detailed book overview
The first time he notices how much Judy looks like her mother, Jim Ryan is so surprised he nearly faints. Vivian was the most interesting woman he had ever known, but their relationship was traumatic, and seeing her every day in their daughter’s face sends a chill through him that he cannot understand. He is just getting up the nerve to tell his daughter the truth about her mother when a picture arrives in the mail that will change his life forever.
It is an ordinary snapshot of a treacherous-looking mountain pass, but it stirs a powerful force deep within Jim’s unconscious and compels him to visit the quiet town in the photo. He proceeds as if hypnotized, risking his life and his family for an answer to the riddle that has corrupted his dreams.
At a California racetrack, an ex-cop investigates the mystery of his mother’s suicide...
The old wooden tower looms over the racetrack, an eyesore that is too famous to tear down. To Wes Harrison, it is more than an architectural curiosity; it is a bitter reminder of Ginger North, the track employee who, three decades earlier, leapt from the tower to her death. Around the track, she is a legend, something to reminisce about in between races, but to Harrison, Ginger North is much more: she was his mother. A troubled ex-cop, Harrison drifts into the world of the racetrack as a way of connecting with his mother’s spirit.
Armed with a few old case files, he takes a job on the grounds, seeking answers about Ginger’s death. Standing in his way are certain people—jockeys, trainers, grooms, and owners—who do not want the truth to come out. Conflict is natural among those who work with horses, but at this track, the competition could be deadly.
By the 1920s, Denver had outgrown its frontier-town beginnings. But for some, life was still as perilous as the surrounding terrain. The insidious influence of the Ku Klux Klan was reaching its peak, and those who stood in its path feared for their safety.
To newspaperman Tom Hastings, his writing matters more than anything. As the book opens, President Harding has just died, and Hastings finds himself drawn toward the biggest story of his career. But his wife resents his allegiance to the newspaper and his Jewish stepfather is a target for the supremacist Kleagles—two good reasons not to persist in his pursuit of the story: that and the KKK has penetrated the highest levels of government in the state.
Some eighty characters surround Tom Hastings: there’s his half-sister, the quiet, passionate Jewess Anna Kohl; David Waldo, a socialist and friend to Jack London; Willie Brown, a rising political star torn between his desire for elective office and the love of his life; and Marvel Millette, a Nellie Bly–like reporter in whom Tom Hastings finally meets his match.
During his first day at a new job, a veteran journalist is drawn into a strange closed society.
After years of churning out copy as a newspaper reporter, Dalton Walker still can’t resist a fire. When a circus tent goes up in smoke, seventeen are killed, and one body in particular draws his attention: a little girl, charred beyond recognition. The adult that brought her there must have survived, but no one comes forward to claim the body. Why? It is a strange case, and the more Walker digs, the stranger it becomes.
At the same time, his new editor hands him a fluff piece—a profile of something New York City has never seen before: an Amish Rockette. As Walker investigates how a girl who was taught that dancing is a sin could have found her way to Radio City Music Hall, he begins to suspect that her apparent fear of reporters is more than just shyness. Danger surrounds the dancer, who is learning that life on the kickline can be just as perilous as a circus-tent fire.
Into this intense community of radio artists and technicians in Regina Beach, New Jersey, come Jack Dulaney and Holly Carnahan. They are determined to find Holly's missing father, whose last desperate word came from this noisy seaside town. Holly sings like an angel and has what it takes to become a star. Jack -- a racetrack hot-walker and novelist who's hit every kind of trouble in his travels from sea to sea -- tries out as a writer at WHAR and soon discovers a passion for radio and a natural talent for script writing.
While absorbing the ways of radio, from writing to directing, he meets some extraordinarily brave and gifted people who touch his life in ways he could not have imagined -- actresses Rue, Pauline, and Hazel; actor-director Waldo, creator of the magnificent black show Freedom Road; and enigmatic station owner Loren Harford, among others.
Jack's zeal for radio is exceeded only by his devotion to Holly, who needs his help but who is terrified for his safety. Strange things are happening in Regina Beach, starting with an English actor who walked out of the station six years ago and was never seen again. And Holly's father is gone too, in equally puzzling circumstances. As Jack and Holly penetrate deeper into the shadows of the past, they learn that someone will do anything, including murder, to hide some devastating truths.
Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway may not always play by the book, but he’s an avid collector of rare and first editions. Bobby Westfall is a local bookscout, a gentle and quiet man who has sold enough valuable books to keep himself and his cats fed and housed. When Bobby is murdered, Janeway would like nothing better than to rearrange the suspect’s spine. But the suspect, local lowlife Jackie Newton, is a master at eluding the law, and Janeway’s wrathful brand of off-duty justice costs him his badge.
Turning to his lifelong passion, Janeway opens a small bookshop—all the while searching for evidence to put Newton away. When prized volumes in a highly sought-after collection begin to appear, so do dead bodies. Now Janeway’s life is about to change in profound and shocking ways as he attempts to find out who’s dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains.
Denver cop-turned-bookdealer Cliff Janeway is lured by an enterprising fellow ex-policeman into going to Seattle to bring back a fugitive wanted for assault, burglary, and the possible theft of a priceless edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." The bail jumper turns out to be a vulnerable young woman calling herself Eleanor Rigby, who is also a gifted book finder.
Janeway is intrigued by the woman -- and by the deadly history surrounding the rare volume. Hunted by people willing to kill for the antique tome, a terrified Eleanor escapes and disappears. To find her -- and save her -- Janeway must unravel the secrets of the book's past and its mysterious maker, for only then can he stop the hand of death from turning another page....
The quest begins when an old woman, Josephine Gallant, learns that Janeway has recently bought at auction a signed first edition by the legendary nineteenth-century explorer Richard Francis Burton. The book is a true classic, telling of Burton's journey (disguised as a Muslim) to the forbidden holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Boston auction house was a distinguished and trustworthy firm, but provenance is sometimes murky and Josephine says the book is rightfully hers.
She believes that her grandfather, who was living in Baltimore more than eighty years ago, had a fabulous collection of Burton material, including a handwritten journal allegedly detailing Burton's undercover trip deep into the troubled American South in 1860. Josephine remembers the books from her childhood, but everything mysteriously disappeared shortly after her grandfather's death.
With little time left in her own life, Josephine begs for Janeway's promise: he must find her grandfather's collection. It's a virtually impossible task, Janeway suspects, as the books will no doubt have been sold and separated over the years, but how can he say no to a dying woman?
It seems that her grandfather, Charlie Warren, traveled south with Burton in the spring of 1860, just before the Civil War began. Was Burton a spy for Britain? What happened during the three months in Burton's travels for which there are no records? How did Charlie acquire his unique collection of Burton books? What will the journal, if it exists, reveal?
When a friend is murdered, possibly because of a Burton book, Janeway knows he must find the answers. Someone today is willing to kill to keep the secrets of the past, and Janeway's search will lead him east: To Baltimore, to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a very stuffed shirt, and to a pair of unorthodox booksellers. It reaches a fiery conclusion at Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
What's more, a young lawyer, Erin d'Angelo, and ex-librarian Koko Bujak, have their own reasons for wanting to find the journal. But can Janeway trust them?
Occasionally, Denver bookman Cliff Janeway has one of those perfect days—he sells a couple of good books and he buys something even better—perhaps a tough-to-find Steinbeck in mint condition. Even the jacket is fine.
Working from his store on seedy Colfax Avenue, Janeway doesn't have enough of those days, but he's not complaining. Things are looking up because of his new partner and friend, lawyer Erin d'Angelo.
So when Erin asks Janeway for a favor, it's hard to say no. She wants him to go over the mountain to the small town of Paradise where a former good friend, Laura Marshall, is in jail, accused of killing her husband.
What happened at the Marshalls' remote mountain home? Did Laura kill Bobby, or is she trying to protect her oldest son? And where were the three children when the shooting occurred? What did they see?
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...
Now long out of print, John Dunning's Tune in Yesterday was the definitive one-volume reference on old-time radio broadcasting. Now, in On the Air, Dunning has completely rethought this classic work, reorganizing the material and doubling its coverage, to provide a richer and more informative account of radio's golden age.
Here are some 1,500 radio shows presented in alphabetical order. The great programs of the '30s, '40s, and '50s are all here--Amos 'n' Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Lone Ranger, Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour, and The March of Time, to name only a few. For each, Dunning provides a complete broadcast history, with the timeslot, the network, and the name of the show's advertisers. He also lists major cast members, announcers, producers, directors, writers, and sound effects people--even the show's theme song. There are also umbrella entries, such as "News Broadcasts," which features an engaging essay on radio news, with capsule biographies of major broadcasters, such as Lowell Thomas and Edward R. Murrow. Equally important, Dunning provides a fascinating account of each program, taking us behind the scenes to capture the feel of the performance, such as the ghastly sounds of Lights Out (a horror drama where heads rolled and bones crunched), and providing engrossing biographies of the main people involved in the show.
A wonderful read for everyone who loves old-time radio, On the Air is a must purchase for all radio hobbyists and anyone interested in 20th-century American history. It is an essential reference work for libraries and radio stations.
For a rare book, a desperate buyer turns to violence.
Six days a week, Joel Beer hunts for books in Denver. He stalks them in bookstores and thrift stores, at yard sales and estate sales, his eyes scanning spines quickly and ruthlessly, searching for the $0.25 gem that he can resell for $250. If he were the only scout in town, he might be able to make a living, but there are close to a dozen full-timers now—including his archrival, Popeye Lamonica—and Joel is having trouble paying his rent.
Facing eviction, Joel and his partner—a slow-witted vagrant named Lacy—go on the hunt. They are about to give up when they find an estate sale offering a $0.50 copy of Walter Behr’s Something for Nothing that is worth $500. But Popeye sees it, too. To make this treasure his, Joel will do whatever it takes—even if it means sacrificing his career.
A powerful executive is confronted by a man claiming to be her son.
Her name is Dreamer Calhoun. Raised in South Carolina, she grew up dirt poor, married young, and was soon burdened with a child she could not care for. When her old life slipped away, Dreamer moved west, working on an assembly line and taking night classes until she could gain a toehold in business. Two decades later, she is the biggest name in town—a mogul with the world at her feet. But a boy named Bobby is about to drag her back down to earth.
Ever since a newspaper article came out about her long-lost son, young men have been appearing, claiming to be Dreamer’s child. But something about Bobby Shields convinces her to listen to his story. He is an odd boy, an impudent drifter who sought Dreamer out on a psychic’s advice. She does not want to believe him, but Bobby Shields may have the power to change Dreamer’s life forever.