cover image Strangle Hold

Strangle Hold

Jerome Doolittle. Pocket Books, $20 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-671-70754-5

Boston wrestler and occasional private eye Tom Bethany, introduced in 1990 Shamus nominee Body Scissors , looks into the death of a wealthy young man whose bequest to the American Civil Liberties Union has been contested. If Morty Limbach intended to kill himself in an act of autoerotic asphyxiation, as his insurance company claims, then the ACLU--whose top lawyer, Hope Edwards, is Bethany's married lover--is out a quarter of a million dollars. Bethany learns that the insurance company's sleazy CEO was once involved with Limbach's mother and had also made unsucccessful moves on Edwards. Inclined to violence when personally provoked, Bethany is a taciturn, politically correct hero obsessed with privacy (he has no credit cards, no bank account, no Social Security number), but he's also intelligent, sensitive and likably thuggish. Doolittle has placed him in a satisfying plot that embraces prime-time TV, improvisational theater, psychoanalysis and Harvard professors. There are assorted red herrings and a fairly obvious perp, but plenty of other bad guys as well. Giving Spenser a run for his money, Bethany proves Boston is a two-PI town. BOMC alternate; Mysterious Book Club selection. (Dec.)