SARATOGA SWIMMER by Stephen Dobyns


Email this review


The welcome return of divorced, shy Charlie Bradshaw (Saratoga Longshot, 1976), ex-cop and now head of security at the Saratoga stables owned by decent Lew Ackerman--who is shot to death by a masked assassin while he's swimming at the YMCA pool. Charlie doesn't want to get involved--especially since his former cop colleagues hate his guts--but, egged on by Ackerman's grieving bodyguard and earthy chum Victor, he does a little sleuthing. And when he promptly finds the dead body of a groom who used to work at the rival Dwyer stables, Charlie focuses his investigation on Dwyer's shady son-in-law; the motives seem to include arson, insurance, and casino gambling. True, there's virtually no mystery here: the culprit is suspicious from the start, obviously guilty soon thereafter. But there's plenty of stark action, some of it reminiscent of that other stable-mystery man, Dick Francis: arms broken by lead pipes, cars careening over cliffs, fire in a locked stable. And, above all, there is Dobyns' leanly atmospheric narration, his dry-edged dialogue, and his quietly comic feel for the middle-aged camaraderie of subdued Charlie, his raunchy would-be Casanova sidekick, and their cronies. So, though those who demand a puzzle in their mystery will be dismayed, this is fine, textured, unmannered work from a warm, subtle writer.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum