"Fatal Gamble" by J.P. O'Donnell

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“Fatal Gamble” by JP O’Donnell was given to me through the good and generous offices of Paula at Author Marketing Experts, and I’m going to take this opportunity to thank her for it. “Fatal Gamble” is a straightforward thriller in which an intrepid private detective survives to ferret out the evil-doers and saves his pretty girlfriend in the process. But it’s an engrossing trip to get to that point.

Measured against the classic whodunit criteria – do I care if the bad guys get caught; am I impressed by the hero’s resourcefulness; is there enough mystery and novelty in the crimes committed – this story succeeds very well. In the climactic moment, when the safety of our detective Gallagher and his girlfriend/fiancée is direly threatened, I really got sweaty palms, and my pulse became quite rapid indeed.

Gallagher is a former Boston cop who now plies his trade as a PI, and when he’s called in by the confused and frightened widow of a newly-murdered pediatrician, he has no inkling that he’s stumbled into a conspiracy involving real estate scams, big-money politics, murder, and corruption in very high places. It’s a very effective yarn, and does that necessary-but-hardly-easy thing: it involves our emotions.

“Fatal Gamble” is, as I say, a straightforward thriller – not so much a mystery, because we know only too well who the heavies are. Dr. O’Donnell could have used the teensiest bit of editing in those few places where unadorned descriptions of action or thought-processes takes too many words. This is not a story where the language soars and entertains on its own, but then, which mystery/thriller is? If you’ve a yen for an effective thriller where the hero is highly sympathetic, the secondary characters drawn with full shading, and the corrupt-in-high-places fall hard, go for “Fatal Gamble.”
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