Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

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9780140247084: Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

Saratoga Springs, the famous racing center, is again the setting for Stephen Dobyns's eighth mystery featuring Charlie Bradshaw, local cop turned private eye. This time, since Charlie is about to go on jury duty, his off-beat sidekick, Victor Plotz - "a high-on-pragmatism, low-on-ethics kind of guy" - agrees to poke around when wealthy horse owner Bernard Logan is kicked to death by a horse. Logan's death surely looks like an accident. Yet just a few days before, Logan had come looking for Charlie, convinced his wife wanted him dead. It soon turns out that a host of folks at Battlefield Farms don't much like each other. Then rats start popping up all over the place. Before the case is closed, there's plenty of mayhem and misdeed, including shenanigans at the race track. This is the kind of sophisticated, elegant story where Stephen Dobyns excels. And dedicated Dobyns fans need not fear; Charlie Bradshaw is very much on the scene. Once more the witty, moodily reflective investigator comes through as a "stand-up full-fashioned creation" (The New Yorker), with the irrepressible Victor Plotz as his perfect foil.

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From Publishers Weekly:

PI Charlie Bradshaw and best friend Victor Plotz solve another mysterious death in New York's upstate horse-racing town of Saratoga Springs. Poet and novelist Dobyns ( Body Traffic ; The Wrestler's Cruel Study ) sends Charlie on jury duty in this, the eighth, entry in the series, giving center stage, and the narrator's role, to Vic. Bernard Logan, racehorse owner, offers Vic a larger than usual fee to find out if his wife and her lover are planning to kill him. Vic and Charlie, who's free on the following Saturday morning, arrive at Battlefield Farms to find Logan dead, apparently kicked to death by a horse. Following Charlie's directions, issued from the courthouse, Vic tries to learn more about the death, their client and the horse farm, where more suspicious deaths occur. Vic takes his work to heart and applies a method of interrogation that, unlike Charlie's serious, mild manner, offends and repels most of his suspects. Charlie and Vic pick their way through tangled acts of venality and homicidal hatred, including one ingeniously plotted death, before Charlie solves the case. Meanwhile Vic holds forth on women (older is better), sex (it's supposed to be fun) and religion (less is more) in a gruff and sometimes touching voice.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Charlie Bradshaw, the laconic hero of Stephen Dobyns' Saratoga mysteries, has been upstaged by his own sidekick, Victor Plotz, that "high on pragmatism, low on ethics kind of guy" who, until now, has been content to stay in the background while Charlie solved crimes. In the eighth entry in this stellar series, Dobyns elects to turn the starring role over to Victor, who accepts it with gusto. The plot centers on the death of thoroughbred owner Bernard Logan, who is trampled by one of his own horses just after hiring Charlie to find out who was trying to kill him. This seeming accident, soon exposed as murder, begins a deadly domino effect, as Logan's power-hungry relatives promptly start bumping off one another. With Charlie on jury duty, Victor draws the job of snooping about Logan's farm, and he quickly manages to offend everyone he encounters--except the reader, of course, who will fall totally under the hedonistic spell of the outrageously obscene, pleasure-craving, life-loving, 59-year-old Victor. Charlie's a great guy, too, of course, but will he ever be able to wrestle the limelight away from his pal? It won't be easy. Bill Ott

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