from the back of the book:
Tough, book-loving Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway wants to nail Jackie Newton - a suspected psychopath who just barely beat the rap for a series of vagrant killings. Janeway is certain his sleazy, sadistic nemesis is to blame for the recent murder of a down-and-out rare book hunter - and treats Newton to a rather brutal helping of off-duty justice that ultimately costs the overzealous cop his badge.
A civilian once more, Cliff Janeway now has time to pursue his true passion - the buying and selling of valuable first editions - and to get to the bottom of the unfortunate bookscouts' still-unsolved slaying. For somewhere undercover, in the bizarre, cutthroat world of bookmen and collectors, someone is dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains.
This book won the Nero Wolfe Award in 1993 and is on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's online members.