Author: JP O'Donnell
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1-9772-0177-5

Pulse Of My Heart, the third in JP O'Donnell's Gallagher Series, once again features Daniel Cormac Gallagher Jr. who appears to have nine lives. O'Donnell combines a titillating organized thriller plot with a fearless hard-boiled tough character, who danger is his middle name.

The novel unfolds with a
Prologue where we read about Don Kraemer who is jogging alone along a dirt path of the Wabash Heritage Trail in Indiana. Don is viciously attacked by a dog that almost kills him. The dog's owner comes to the rescue and apologizes giving the excuse that the dog, who is named Caesar, broke off from his leash and he was unable to retrieve him as the animal was far too fast for him.

The owner offers Don a gold necklace for his trouble, but an angry Don refuses to accept it. All he asks for is the name of the dog's veterinarian. The owner agrees to give Don his name and phone number and inserts the information into Don's cell phone. Don does not realize, however, that the owner is entering a fake name and phone number and thus begins our yarn.

As the narrative takes shape, we find our protagonist, Gallagher longing for the companionship of his lost love and ex-wife, Kathryn Daisy McSurdy who left him eight months ago. Gallagher is a Boston private detective who is married to his profession and Kate had enough of his dangerous assignments which not only placed him in some near-death situations but also included her in some of these adventures.

Gallagher receives a distressing phone call from Kate's father, Bob McSurdy, who tells him that Kate has abruptly disappeared and he is afraid something has happened to her. Within an hour Gallagher meets with Bob who tells him that two weeks ago Kate telephoned him and his wife indicating to them that she had to make a trip to Indiana to see his niece, Cindy who had just lost her husband Don. Yes, the Don mentioned in the prologue who had been bitten by the dog. However, the cause of death was some acute infection that overtook his body. There is no mention of a vicious dog bite.

Gallagher is dumbfounded to hear about Cindy as Kate never mentioned her to him. And what throws Gallagher for a loop is that Bob reveals to him that Kate had a baby and that Cindy and Don had adopted the baby. Kate had been living for four years with an ex-football player, Matt Winston, who had abused and raped her. She broke off with Winston without revealing to him that he had impregnated her.

Until the novel's final brief chapters, O'Donnell pulls out all the stops, repeatedly blindsiding his readers with shifts and turns. What we have is a criminal plot involving a local news media icon, police corruption, drugs, multiple murders, a missing child whose parents died mysteriously, an unbalanced ex-lover who is determined to find the mother of his child, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of an ex-wife, and a shootout at a miniature horse farm. No doubt, the novel has all the elements of tragedy and gossip that the public loves to devour.

And what stands out is O'Donnell's perfect sense of timing as he delivers all the cliffhangers and hairpin turns that you would come to expect from a well-constructed thriller. Although, in the real world we would probably pause to question the yarns' rapid conclusion, yet, in the world of Gallagher, we know better.

One final thought, if you need to escape from your everyday drudgery, this may be the novel that so effectively hits the spot and where you can easily spend an afternoon flaked out on the couch with this fast read.

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