John Dunning (detective fiction author)

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John Dunning
Born(1942-01-09)January 9, 1942
New York City, U.S.
DiedMay 23, 2023(2023-05-23) (aged 81)
GenreDetective fiction, mystery

John Dunning (January 9, 1942 – May 22, 2023) was an American writer of non-fiction and detective fiction. He was known for his reference books on old-time radio and his series of mysteries featuring Denver bookseller and ex-policeman Cliff Janeway.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942, Dunning moved to his father's hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, at the age of three. In 1964 he left his parents' home and moved to Denver, Colorado, where, after a time working as a stable hand at a horse racing track, he got a job at The Denver Post. In 1970 he left the newspaper and took up writing novels, while pursuing a variety of jobs. Partly because of trouble with his publishers, in 1984 he stopped writing and opened a store specializing in second-hand and rare books called the Old Algonquin Bookstore.[1][2] At the urging of fellow authors, he returned to the world of novels in 1992 with his first Cliff Janeway novel, Booked to Die. In 1994 he closed the store and continued it as an internet and mail order business called Old Algonquin Books.[3]


In addition to compiling encyclopedic reference books about the history of radio programming, Dunning hosted a long-running weekly radio show, Old-Time Radio.[4]


Dunning received his first award nomination in 1981, when Looking for Ginger North received an Edgar Award nomination for "Best Paperback Original".[5] The following year, Deadline was nominated for this same honour.[5]

Dunning's novel Booked to Die won the Nero Award and was nominated for the 1993 Anthony Award in the "Best Novel" category.[6][7] The follow-up to this novel, The Bookman's Wake, was nominated for the 1996 Edgar Award in the "Best Novel" running.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

On May 30, 1969, Dunning married Helen Rose Korupp.[9]

Dunning died on May 23, 2023, at the age of 81, following a long battle with dementia, stemming from a brain tumor diagnosed in 2006.[10]


Cliff Janeway novels[edit]

  • Booked to Die (1992)
  • The Bookman's Wake (1995)
  • The Bookman's Promise (2004)
  • The Sign of the Book (2005)
  • The Bookwoman's Last Fling (2006)

Other detective novels[edit]

  • The Holland Suggestions (1975)
  • Looking for Ginger North (1980)
  • Two O'Clock Eastern Wartime (2001)

Other novels[edit]

  • Denver (1980)
  • Deadline (1981)


  • Tune in Yesterday: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, 1925–1976 (1976)
  • On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (1998)


  1. ^ Wheelan, Joe (April 28, 1992). "Author Combines Bookselling, Writing Fevers". The Item. Jack Osteen. p. 6A. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  2. ^ Wheelan, Joe (May 25, 1995). "Worlds of Books, Murder Collide". The Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky: John Pipes Gaines. p. 11. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  3. ^ "Welcome to Old Algonquin Books". Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  4. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. Retrieved April 2, 2012. john dunning on the air.
  5. ^ a b "Best Paperback Original Mystery Novel Edgar Award Winners and Nominees – Complete Lists". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  6. ^ "Wolfe Pack Nero Award Recipients chronologically". December 12, 2011. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards Nominees". October 2, 2003. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  8. ^ "Best Mystery Novel Edgar Award Winners and Nominees – Complete Lists". Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  9. ^ "Dunning, John 1942-". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Volume 155. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7876-7909-5
  10. ^ McKinley, Carol (May 26, 2023). "John Dunning, author, rare bookseller, force of nature dead at 81". The Denver Gazette. Retrieved May 26, 2023.

External links[edit]