(Author's note: This column was also published in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, Denver edition on June 17, 2006)
by Jim McAllister
John Dunning is the best mystery writer that I have ever read and my favorites, other than Dunning, are no slouches: Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Tony Hillerman, Michael Crichton, and others of the same level. Why, then, would I pick Dunning over those guys who have much longer resumes and, in general, are more well known?
It started in 2001 when my wife was at a Border’s store in Scottsdale and came across Dunning’s novel for that year, "Two O’Clock, Eastern Wartime". She knows that being a history major, specializing especially in American history and the period of the 1940's, I enjoy stories pertaining to that period. I also like anything that involves old time radio. After perusing Dunning’s book, she noticed that not only was it a mystery, but was involved with the early days of World War II (1942) plus some strange happenings occurring at a radio station along the Jersey shore outside of New York City. She bought the book, I immediately read it, and have been a John Dunning fan ever since.
Mr. Dunning has also written a series of mysteries involving fictional former Denver cop and now bookseller, Cliff Janeway. His first in the Janeway series was "Booked to Die", which was published in 1992. Happy just to be published, Dunning figured to sell the initial printing of 6,500 hardback first editions and maybe go through a small second printing. After all, he hadn’t had a published work in ten years. What actually happened was "Booked to Die" had its initial printings sold out immediately and from 1992 through 2000 has had four more hardback and nineteen paperback editions.