Monday, March 20, 2017

Age has slowed but not stopped Charlie Bradshaw

SARATOGA PAYBACK (A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery)
Stephen Dobyns
Blue Rider Press
March 14, 2017

I read several of the Charlie Bradshaw Saratoga mysteries way back when and liked them a lot but somehow lost track of them. I wish I had read the intervening books as I had forgotten much of what I knew about many of the characters who appear to be staples in the series. Charlie is much older now, married with three stepdaughters. His ongoing meddling in police business, which I did remember, has ended with him losing his P.I. license and pistol permit. He is supposed to a regular retired senior citizen but a case lands in his driveway one night. One of his most obnoxious acquaintances is dead with a cut throat and a severed tongue. Since Charlie thinks that the victim, Mickey Martin, could only have been coming to see him he wants to know what's up. It appears that a serial murderer is on the loose, and Charlie may be a target.

Saratoga Payback is very entertaining, if somewhat slow-paced until the nail-biting ending. There is a lot of humor involving Charlie trying to stay under the police radar and the ravages of age. I had not met his wife Janey before but there is one particularly hilarious passage in which she gives Charlie's nemesis on the force a memorable dressing down. Things really get serious before the end and Charlie fears the loss of not only his life but those of his family and friends. Since the series is set in Saratoga Springs horses and a horse theft ring are also involved. I was thoroughly entertained and plan to get caught up on Charlie Bradshaw. I also wanted to give a shout-out to The Church of Dead Girls, written as a stand-alone novel in the late 1990's. It is a novel that has stayed with me all these years and is one of the best portrayals of the effects of suspicion and vigilantism on a small town that I have ever read.

I received Saratoga Payback through the First to Read Program. The opinions above are my own.

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