VEGAS P.I. by Lake Headley

VEGAS P.I.

The Life and Times of America's Greatest Detective
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Drab self-rendering of the colorful life of supersleuth Headley, champion of underdogs, who died last year of Lou Gehrig's disease. That Headley and coauthor Hoffman could write an exciting book was proven by their Contract Killer (January 1993), about hit man Donald Frankos, as well as by Loud and Clear (1990), about the aftermath of the murder of Arizona reporter Don Bolles, and (to a lesser degree) by The Court-Martial of Clayton Lonetree (1989), about Headley's gumshoeing on behalf of a Native American convicted of spying--and that's part of the problem here, where these three cases are sketchily rehashed even though they were chronicled in greater and fresher detail in the earlier books. And while Headley's other high-profile cases--including doing legal legwork for the American Indian Movement after its occupation of Wounded Knee, and identifying Donald DeFreeze, kidnapper of Patty Hearst, as an FBI informant-gone-bad--are potentially dramatic, his tellings of them wilt on the page, leached of energy by his conversational, detail-poor prose (assistant and former wife Terri Lee is ``really great''). It's only events of paramount emotional impact that sparkle here: Headley's killing, as a young Vegas cop, of a suspect--a death that prompted the author to quit the force and turn p.i.; the Wounded Knee investigation, which radicalized Headley and cemented his lifelong contempt for the FBI (in one astonishing scene, he makes a citizen's arrest of two bullying agents); and his poignant, dignified struggle with his fatal disease, chronicled mostly through letters to Hoffman. A dull narration that only occasionally flickers to life--but one that, thankfully, doesn't quite obscure Headley's real legacy: his many rightings of injustices along his courageous, committed way. (First printing of 35,000)

Pub Date: July 2nd, 1993
ISBN: 1-56025-057-7
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993




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