Cliff Janeway is a no nonsense kind of guy who enjoys books and running his bookshop and who still remembers the rough and tumble life of being a cop. His bookshop is in the rough side of town, but his former career prepared him well for it. Cliff has another love, his girlfriend Erin, who has a past he does not know about completely. When Erin asks him to investigate the murder of her first love, Robert, Cliff goes to Paradise, Colorado to meet Robert's wife and Erin's childhood friend, Laura. Laura just so happens to be the prime suspect in the murder. Laura seems to be innocent, but claims to have shot her husband, which leads Cliff to believe she is hiding something. Along with Laura's confusing admission of guilt is the fact that in the Marshall's home there are rare signed books, which would be worth thousands. Was this a crime of passion, a crime by a hurting child, a crime of greed, or something even more sinister? Cliff must get to the bottom of the crime, before he loses the one person who means everything to him, Erin.
This seemed to be a cross between a hard-boiled detective novel and a suspenseful mystery. This is full of language, so it was interesting trying to listen to the audio and turning it down every time the f-bomb was dropped, which was about every 10 minutes. Despite a bit too much language, this was a surprising and suspenseful read. I did not completely see the end coming and the twist with the child who had autism were really well done. I can tell we have learned more about autism since 2005, but much of the materials was actually well-informed for the time. Cliff was a likable character, but a bit of a chauvinist in his responses to women and it almost cost him everything, so well done to Dunning on creating a character flaw that was not necessarily obvious, but played a big role in the end. Despite the language, I would read more in this series and I loved the discussion of books in the mystery. 4 cups of cocoa!