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Strangle Hold reviewed

     “Let me tell you about Tom Bethany, the detective Jerome Doolittle has wrought. Tom Bethany is tough--he’s an amateur wrestler, after all. Wrestling, in a way, is a metaphor for how Bethany lives his life. When he’s engaged he’s totally committed, focused and very close to the opposition. He uses his opponents’ moves to defeat them. Bethany has an unlisted phone in a phony name (that’s real anonymity). His best friend and love of his life is married to another. She is an attorney who runs the Washington office of the ACLU.
     “Bethany has been hired to prove that poor little rich man Morty Limbach did not commit suicide. If he did commit suicide, the quarter of a million dollar life insurance policy will not be paid, and the beneficiary is the ACLU. Morty lived a troubled life: low self-esteem and a generous nature. His parents didn’t understand or appreciate him. They sent him to a psychiatrist when he voted for George McGovern. Morty spent the last years of his life supporting an improvisational theater troupe.
     “Doolittle’s writing and observations of the Northeastern establishment and fringe groups are laser quality. He describes certain chi-chi leather furniture as looking like oversized dog beds. (It does.) He describes the life of one woman: ‘years of drudgery and day laboring had geared her down like a tractor for the long, slow haul.’ This is definitely not applicable to Bethany. The first Bethany novel, Body Scissors, is terrific, too. ”

     “Strangle Hold is terrific! Fully a dozen characters, most notably the Harvard constitutional law scholar and the odious insurance executive, are wonderfully well developed. Doolittle’s Boston is alternately gritty and charming, and his dialogue is as crisp as the leaves that fall in Harvard Square in October. Best though, is Bethany: he’s Travis McGee without the pontification, Spenser with an attitude. His righteous thuggery against the insurance man and his minions is startling, cruel, and ultimately satisfying. ”

     “Jerome Doolittle goes for the gold in Strangle Hold, which wins in the Amoral Tough Guy/Rough Justice Event . . . The morals of this book are neolithic, but the writing is hard-edged, sure and crackling. It moves fast, it’s ugly, and it cheats. If you like this sort of stuff, then buddy, this one’s for you. What does it say about our country’s morals that the creator of this sick masterpiece is a former White House speech writer? ”

(Author’s note: This remains, naturally, my favorite review. --JD)

     “The plot hurtles along, and the characters are richly drawn originals. Doolittle writes like Muhammad Ali used to punch--clean and sharp and powerful . . . Within his own morality Bethany is heroic, an Everyman tilting against wealth and power. And that’s what detective fiction is supposed to be about. Strangle Hold is one of those books you’ll stay up all night to finish. ”

To Get the Book

     The first chapter is available on this site. The entire book, in Portable Document Format, can be had as shareware.
     This full manuscript is in eleven-point type, a standard size for hard cover books. It will print in horizontal format on standard 8.5 " x ll " paper, giving the effect of an open book with facing pages. This PDF file will be sent as an e-mail attachments. Download time should be three or four minutes.
     To order, e-mail Please include your name, mailing address and phone number, for our verification purposes. This information will not be made available to anyone else. The full book will then be e-mailed to you. If you like it, send five dollars.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerome Doolittle