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Review: Dead Heat by Linda Barnes

Originally published in June 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

Third of four books about former private eye, now actor, Michael Spraggue, scion of one of Boston’s moneyed families, who prefers to live on his own rather than at the family mansion and to earn his own living instead of spending the family riches. The city of Boston is just as much a characters in this book as the people are, which is cool, because so often places are just used as interchangeable backgrounds for stories that could happen anywhere.

This book was published in 1984 and appears to be out of print. Best place to find it would probably be a library or second-hand book store (or

The story: Collatos, a former cop, now a bodyguard, and a friend of Spraggue’s, asks him to help him find the writer of anonymous threatening letters that his boss, a US senator, has been receiving. When the senator and bodyguard take part in the Boston marathon and are poisoned by a “woman” who gives them water laced with an overdose of speed, with the result that Collatos dies, Spraggue begins to investigate the death. He leaves no stone unturned, and discovers an insurance scam Collatos was investigating before he left the police force and which seems connected to his death. This leads him to think it was Collatos who was the target of the poisoning, and not the senator, and the anonymous letters were either a subterfuge or unrelated to the murder. But how did the killer know Collatos would have an allergic reaction to amphetamine?

I have previously mentioned how I hate books that are so dependent on other books in the same series that they can’t be read without having read the others first. I wouldn’t exactly go as far as to say this is one of those books, but it did leave me with several unanswered questions about Spraggue’s background that the author obviously assumed the reader would know about. It would therefore be a good idea to read the first two books in order, before reading this one.

Rating: An entertaining crime thriller with a twist in the tail. 3+ stars.


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