A TAX IN BLOOD by Benjamin M. Schutz


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Washington private-eye Leo Haggerty (Embrace the Wolf, All the Old Bargains) is hired to prove--for insurance reasons--that State Dept. attachÉ Malcolm Donnell, found dead (from a medication/booze combo) in a hotel room, didn't commit suicide. So Haggerty sets out to reconstruct dead man's final hours, tracking down the prostitute who visited Donnelly at the hotel. To win this key witness' confidence, however, Haggerty must first immobilize a sadistic pimp--which he does in a near-comically violent sequence (followed by plastic surgery). And eventually, thanks to this hard-won evidence, Haggerty feels sure that Donnelly was trickily murdered (a not-very-convincing method) by his own psychiatrist! But what was the motive? Could Donnelly's murder somehow be connected to a recent wave of terrorist bombings? Could the psychiatrist--a specialist in hypno-therapy with a Latin American background--be planning a political assassination. . .and could it be that Donnelly got in the way of that dastardly scheme? It could indeed--and so Haggerty, with weird pal Arnie (a martial arts whiz), must rash to prevent a ghastly international incident. This assassination, plot finale, with echoes of The Manchurian Candidate and 1940s B-thrillers, is more cartoonish than chilling. Haggerty's narration too often lapses into purplish prose, especially when indulging in gratuitous sex (""we crashed together with the fit and fury of the surf and the shore"") and sentimental subplots. But there's enough lively sleuthing here, especially in the combat-zone episode, to keep undemanding readers sporadically diverted.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1987
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's