Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dead Heat by Linda Barnes

With sweaty fingers, Spraggue yanked a crumpled scrap of paper from the pocket of his running shorts.

In memory of the Marathon Bombing and to mark the one year anniversary, I've decided, for better or for worse, to review the opening of Dead Heat, first published in 1984, with the ominous subtitle: Murder at the Boston Marathon. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon copy at a library sale some time ago, as I've heard it is out of print.

In this opening line we are introduced to the detective and protagonist, Spraggue, but little else. There is no conflict, but there is some foreshadowing, hopefully, suggesting something untoward in the form of the crumpled piece of paper. We aren't disappointed as a couple sentences later we are told that the note says:

3 P.M. 

By the third paragraph we learn that the detective is in the middle of a run with runners all about.

First thing said:


And then:

"Over there!"

The dialogue does not offer much, but is expected from a simple murder mystery. It's not fair to expect something witty or philosophical. However, this opening dialogue does move the plot forward - sort of, and introduces another character.

Because of the events of a year ago, reading this now, takes on a slightly different flavor - a little creepy.

Verdict: Pass (Barely)

Theodore Moracht

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