cover image Saratoga Fleshpot: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

Saratoga Fleshpot: A Charlie Bradshaw Mystery

Stephen Dobyns. W. W. Norton & Company, $21 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03805-7

No, this isn't a racy view of the racing city-simply the name of the horse at the center of Dobyns's lively new entry (following Saratoga Backtalk) in his series about laid-back Saratoga detective Charlie Bradshaw and his impossible sidekick, Vic Plotz. Fleshpot has been sold for more than half a million in the annual August horse sales, despite his tendency to nip people in the backside; Plotz, noticing after the sale that the horse no longer nips, wonders if a switch has been pulled. This observation puts him in trouble with the devious folk behind the switch, and since the powers that be in the city have never been fond of Plotz, his troubles soon accumulate. It takes three murders, a hilarious horsenapping (Fleshpot is stashed in the bridal suite of a hotel closed for the season) and a wing-ding climax at a parade honoring Saratoga's retiring police chief-another Plotz archenemy-before things are set to rights, more or less. Slow out of the gate but soon gaining pace, this tale stars Plotz, poet Dobyns's witty narrator: ``The Saratoga Republicans had gone to bed early in order to build up the energy to grind it to the poor the next day... The few lights we passed probably belonged to Democrats, staring sullenly into their whisky glasses and wondering where the thrill had gone.'' (July)