Plot or Premise
Devlin Tracy is a claims investigator working for an insurance company. The VP gives him a case to investigate — a friend of the President of the company is in a sanatorium, one of the other patients changed their beneficiary on their insurance policy just before they died, and the doctor at the sanatorium got the winfall. The President is afraid that his friend will be pressured to do the same, and the President wants Trace to make sure there’s nothing weird going on.
What I Liked
Warren Murphy was the creator of several other series, and while some of those were kind of pulp-style, this one is a full “standard” detective novel. Wise-cracking, determined, but not always the fastest to figure things out. Trace works hard, keeps poking until something shakes loose, and then grabs on and won’t let go until whatever scheme falls apart. All the elements of the series are here — drinking like a fish, sleeping with suspects, wearing a little frog pin that records conversations, and a bit of a blundering style that worms his way into lots of situations. There are sub-stories with drugs and potential lawsuits, but mostly it is just about Trace shaking things up.
What I Didn’t Like
He has a girlfriend, of sorts, and her portrayal in this one is more annoying than usual for the series. Plus she comes in near the end as a super-detective to help solve the case, but Trace was doing fine on his own. She helps him out, as she often does, but she was mostly superfluous for this outing.
The Bottom Line
Great intro to a great series.