John Dunning, bookseller and novelist, 1942-2023

Nick Basbanes

John Dunning (right), with Nick Basbanes

"I was terribly saddened to learn of the death of John Dunning," writes Nick Basbanes, "a consummate bookman in every respect. Collector, co-owner of the Old Algonquin Book Shop in Denver, one-time newspaper reporter, radio personality, creator of the incomparable, two-time Edgar Award-nominated Cliff Janeway bibliomystery series Booked to Die, The Bookman's Wake, The Bookman's Promise, notably among them."

"To that, he was a thoroughly good and decent man who I had the pleasure of hanging out with for a couple days at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Fair in 2003, appearing together on a panel and flogging each other's books. He threw one heck of a party, too, in his home for the assembled booksellers. A delightful man who will be missed."

John Dunning was born January 9, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Charleston, South Caroline. After a series of jobs, he worked in the library at The Denver Post where he later became a reporter and then part of its investigative team. After a stint as a campaign press secretary to candidates in Colorado, he taught college writing and journalism until in 1984 he opened the Old Agonquin Bookstore in East Denver with his wife Helen. After a decade, it became an online operation which continues to thrive. He also enjoyed a career as a crime novelist including Booked to Die, the first in his Cliff Janeway series of five bibliomysteries, which won the Nero Award and also garnered a nomination for the Anthony Award.

John died on May 22, 2023. A celebration of his life can be found at The Denver Gazette.