Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Fatal Gamble by J.P. O'Donnell


Twenty years ago, a group of doctors formed a partnership to build a medical office plaza in Massachusetts. While it wasn't the most above-board deal ever made, the doctors have found continued profit and success-until now. Someone wants the doctors dead, and he or she has already succeeded in murdering two of them. The identity of the killer remains unknown. Is it a madman with a vendetta against the medical profession, a small-time bookie seeking revenge for a shady real estate deal, or a disgruntled former construction manager who was unjustly fired? The widow of one of the slain doctors has a clue-but she's too afraid to tell the police. She hires Boston private investigator Daniel Gallagher to help track down the murderer. But as Gallagher begins to unravel the mystery, he finds himself entangled in a web of danger and political intrigue. With the stakes growing higher, Gallagher faces a growing threat to keep him quiet before he reveals the damaging truth. But when push comes to shove, has Gallagher made a Fatal Gamble?


With a central focus on one character but told in third person to provide insight at perfectly selected times to other characters, Fatal Gamble is an intricate, engaging mystery. The writing reads smoothly and the book opens with a stunning start to pull in the reader.

Gallagher is charismatic, insightful and deferential. Now a private investigator, he has a past within the police force that adds to not only the plot but his character as well. Curious and determined, he is used to the mostly run of the mill lost person cases but eagerly accepts the case at hand. Despite having a steady girlfriend whom he cares immensely for, Gallagher also puts much of himself into his work and has a strong desire for it in his blood. The interactions with Kate show a different man than whom the reader sees on investigation but hints of his passion and loyalty are prevalent in both.

Though Gallagher is the primary character, this book is driven by the mystery and the plot. Opening with the shooting of one of the doctors, the intrigue is sparked from the start. There are innumerable players throughout and the entire plotline is weaved together brilliantly. Several seemingly separate things tie together in surprising ways and O’Donnell throws in several twists the reader will not see coming. The final way everything interacts is revealed in a shocking manner and each new addition increases the danger, particularly to Gallagher.

O’Donnell’s writing is detailed without being distracting and several of the passages add an intense air of mystery that fuels the reader more. As Gallagher uncovers more secrets and gets closer to the truth, the reader will try to piece things together, only to be thrown another loop. The pace is quick and the constant twists keep the reader engaged and curious throughout.

High action and a strikingly complex plot line combine to make Fatal Gamble a great read. A sympathetic and intelligent central character also help add to the enticement of this book. With multiple murders and an interesting narrative, it is certainly a hit and easy to visualize much of the scenes.

Source: Copy received for review from author
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: iUniverse (December 3, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 059551409X
ISBN-13: 978-0595514090


  1. Great review.

    I have had this on my TBR list for a year but didn't keep the reference I saw it from so I'm glad to see a review on it. I want to read for my Thriller & Suspense Challenge.

    Seems so me.

  2. I'm not a fan of thriller BUT this sounds really good... I'll definetely recommend it (and your review of the book) to the peeps I know that love thriller and suspense. :)