"I have always been the pal of easy money. What some people call temptation, I call opportunity." So begins cult character Victor Plotz--without whom, says The New York Times Book Review, "the world would be a much stuffier place." Life is good, and love is in the air, for Vic and for Charlie Bradshaw, the sharp-eyed, crumpled ex-cop who's as straight--relatively--as Vic is devious. But Vic wants it to be better, and he leaps at two thousand bucks to collect a mystery suitcase in Montreal. That's when the trouble begins, with an offbeat cast that includes a black-belted youth with lousy karma, a shady operator and his sloppy son, the son's stripper Amazon girlfriend who dumps him for a jockey, and Rosemary the queen of softness, Vic's current squeeze. Saratoga Strongbox sets Charlie on the trail of every deadly sin from dirty money to outright murder. Just in time for racing season and summer gift-giving, this is "jaunty and colorful, good tongue-in-cheek fun" (The Boston Sunday Globe).
Stephen Dobyns is nothing if not prolific: Saratoga Strongbox
is his 13th novel in 12 years, and the 10th in his acclaimed Charlie Bradshaw series. His new novel sets Charlie and his sidekick, Victor Plotz, on the trail of dirty money when Victor agrees to collect a suspicious suitcase in Montreal for old man Weber. Unfortunately, when Victor decides to farm the job out to Eddie Gillespie, a bumbling black belt with an overactive conscience, he's quickly embroiled in a fiasco involving kneecapping thugs, an Amazonian snake-wielding stripper, and an overly greedy heir to a money-laundering fortune. Even more anxiety-provoking are Victor's fears that his girlfriend Rosemary, "the Queen of Softness," has been stepping out with a mysterious Dodge-driving Lothario. Make no mistake, Victor and his reactions are the stars of this novel; plot comes a distant--but still enjoyable--second. Victor might best be thought of as Thoreau meets Groucho Marx meets just about any character you can think of from a Samuel Beckett play. An inveterate student of the human condition with a penchant for observing and participating in the myriad absurdities of life, Victor feels his wallet throb whenever anyone mentions a quick buck.
The New York Times Book Review has noted that "Dobyns is every bit as good a writer as Dick Francis." Wrong. When it comes to dialogue and characterization, Dobyns is by far Francis's superior. Dobyns's sardonic humor is ever-present, percolating just under the surface or erupting into dead-on descriptions of the motley characters who populate his novels. Saratoga Strongbox gives the reader a thoroughly rousing ride to the wire. --Kelly Flynn