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The Last Private Eye

The Last Private Eye, January 2015
Michael Rhineheart, P.I
by John Birkett

Featuring: Sally McGraw; Michael Rhineheart; Farnsworth
192 pages
ISBN: 0062356194
EAN: 9780062356192
Kindle: B00NEPGXR2
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"This PI has to find a racing groom, with the Kentucky Derby at stake"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Last Private Eye
John Birkett

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted April 5, 2015

Mystery Private Eye

Mickey Rhineheart is called in to investigate a missing racehorse groom. He's a PI and the lady reporter who entrusts the job to him, knew him from school. That's a long time ago, but it's better than Mickey knows horses. Still, how hard can it be? At the time of the Churchill Downs great racing festival, when horses are being primed for the prize of the Kentucky Derby, THE LAST PRIVATE EYE finds that a great deal is at stake. Maybe enough to be worth killing for.

The first thing Mickey finds in his quest for groom Carl Walsh is a fit young woman willing to sleep with a total stranger. The next is a dead man. This man is another racing groom, for a different stud farm. Is something going on? Both studs have colts entered in the Derby. The connection is tenuous but enough to keep Mickey investigating. A colt called Royal Dancer is among the field, and Carl was his groom. The colt's owner seems all too keen to get the matter resolved before race day, on the grounds that it is adverse publicity. Competition between the two stud farms is fierce, but would they stoop to murder?

We see the insides of stable yards and expensive bluegrass country homes, learn that money can't buy you happiness and that even winners on the track can be losers in life. This tale was written in 1988 and feels like it. There are no mobile phones, net searches or social pages; on the other hand we are reminded of how little life has changed in other areas. The PI meets the traditional informers - waitresses, low-paid workers, scared girlfriends of missing persons - and the usual antagonists - the wealthy, bookmakers and police who hate anyone interfering and removing evidence. I absolutely could not believe the socialite wanting to get together with the PI, but others might disagree.

If you like shamus stories, John Birkett has produced a fine, traditionally gritty example of the genre in THE LAST PRIVATE EYE. Horse lovers will see less of horses and more of people than we could have hoped, but then again horses don't provide tips or threats, do they? The next in this series is called The Queen's Mare and I'm looking forward to the read.

Learn more about The Last Private Eye


Nasty horseplay at the Derby lands Rhineheart in a race against time to stop a murderous scheme

Michael Rhineheart is a Louisville private eye with a taste for bourbon and a nose for trouble. He's as tough and savvy as they come. His sleuthing secretary, Sally McGraw, is desperate to learn the ropes. Their pal Farnsworth is a crusty old pro who hasn't lost his touch.

Together this hardboiled trio sets out to solve a mysterious disappearance at the racetrack. Soon they are galloping onto a trail of lust, greed, and murder and enough dirty deeds to turn Kentucky's bluegrass red with shame.

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