cover image Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

Saratoga Backtalk: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

Stephen Dobyns. W. W. Norton & Company, $19.95 (221pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03659-6

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. (July)