Charlie Bradshaw

Created by Stephen Dobyns

“I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t trust beauty. Like it’s a distraction. You stand there staring at the posies, thinking how pretty they are and then whap, something smacks you from behind. When my wife was dying, the doctors gave her morphine to take her mind off her troubles: beauty is like that. The big distraction.”
Saratoga Backtalk

Mild-mannered CHARLIE BRADSHAW manages to (almost) make a living as a small town private eye in Saratoga Springs, New York, in a smart, sassy semi-boiled series. A former policeman, this brooding, beleagured but appealing Everyman’s also been known to take a job as a milkman or work hotel security to make ends meet.

Beginning with Saratoga Backtalk (1994), the series took a more comic turn, as Vic Plotz, Charlie’s loud, gleefully incorrect sidekick and best friend, assumed the role of narrator. But they’re all worth reading — Dobyns’ prose is smart, spare and refreshingly earthy.

The author is an American creative writing professor, novelist and an acclaimed poet, having won the the Melville Kane award from the Poetry Society of America for his collection, Cemetery Knights, in 1988. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as numerous other honours. He has taught at the University of Iowa, Boston University, Syracuse University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and currently teaches creative writing in the master of fine arts program at Warren Wilson College. He’s also written several standalone crime thrillers, including Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? and The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini.


  • “The Hungarians kept looking at them, then disappearing behind the curtain to whisper in a language that sounded more like chewing than talking.”
    — Saratoga Snapper
  • “His dove gray hair was expensively styled to surround his head much as an olive surrounds its pimiento stuffing.”
    — Saratoga Bestiary
  • “… the noise it makes is like the sound of worrying—buzz, buzz, buzz—like anxiety personified. It reminds me of a sewing machine in heat.”
    — Vic on Charlie’s car in Saratoga Backtalk



  • Saratoga Trifecta (1995) Buy this book
    Collects Saratoga Swimmer, Saratoga Headhunter and Saratoga Longshot.


  • Hers: Bad Behavior
    November 1995 New York Times column by writer and PEN president Francine Prose arguing against Dobyn’s controversial 1995 suspension from Syracuse University for “sexual harassment”.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to @as_simile  for the side order of similes.

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