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    Review of THE DEVIL'S OWN RAG DOLL by Mitchell Bartoy (see his website)

    St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2005

    It's 1943, the war is on, and Detroit is a steaming mass waiting to explode. Black-white hatred is coming to a boil when police detective Pete Caudill is tasked to bring home a white girl who's been dating black men. He finds the girl too late--she's not only been killed but left for him to find as if on display and soon finds himself in the middle of an attempt by white racists to incite a final race war.

    Caudill is used to thinking with his fist and not his mind. With his captain breathing down his neck, his partner scheming get-rich-quick schemes, his nephew caught up in the white suppremacy group, and a growing attachment to his brother's widow, Caudill has troubles all around him. If he could just give up, life would be easier. Unfortunately for him, he might not be much of a thinker but he's even less of a quiter.

    Author Mitchell Bartoy creates vivid images of wartime Detroit. Hatred and heat linger and those me who remain, after so many have been called into war, feel as if they are only the lame, the halt. Caudill makes an interesting and archetypal character, moving forward like nemesis even as plots unfold around him, using him and his reputation. The ploters think they have Caudill's number, can use him as they use so many others. But at some level, Caudill is a decent man.

    THE DEVIL'S OWN RAG DOLL is a highly promising first novel. Parts of it read a little writerly, as if Bartoy were trying too hard to create his mood, but overall it's a fine mystery/thriller.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/22/06

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