by Stephen Dobyns
Blue Rider Press, March 2017, $27

You can take a PI’s license away, but you can’t stop him from being a first-class detective—even if being a top-notch detective and solving cases before the embarrassed police can is what cost him his license in the first place. Now a senior citizen, Charlie Bradshaw almost literally stumbles over a dead body late one night just a few feet from his Saratoga Springs, New York, doorstep. Worse yet, it’s someone he knows and has had problems with in the past. Even more bizarre, the victim’s tongue has been cut out.

Not long after, Charlie discovers another acquaintance, a small-time hood named Dave Parlucci, who may have known more about the murder, also dead with his nose cut off. Thus begins a wild and wacky tale that involves kidnapped horses, a seemingly crazed killer with a murky motive, and a list of potential future victims, Charlie Bradshaw among them.

This is a fast-paced murder mystery featuring a sharp-eyed and wily protagonist who must walk a thin line between being prosecuted for investigating a case without a PI license and finding a murderer before he himself becomes a victim. Adding to the interest is the tenuous relationship between Charlie and the lead police detective, Lieutenant Frank Hutchins. Fortunately, among the bodies, there’s also plenty of humor to temper the suspense, particularly between Charlie and his best friend, Victor, who plays a key role in the final denouement.

Although I had not previously been familiar with his work, Stephen Dobyns has published 23 novels, including this, his 11th mystery in the Charlie Bradshaw series.

Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

Charlie Bradshaw proves you can take a PI’s license away, but you can’t stop him from being a first-class detective.

Teri Duerr
March 2017
Blue Rider Press