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Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel (Harlan Donnally Novels) Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Harlan Donnally Novels
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Original edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062025066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062025067
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Act of Deceit is great, one of those stay-up-all-night-reading stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat . . . Gore gets where he is going with a series of twists, turns and revelations that keep the reader on board and frequently guessing . . . Act of Deceit is one that shines brightly" -- Bookreporter

From the Back Cover

Mt. Shasta is far from the San Franciscosidewalk on which Harlan Donnally’s lifenearly ended in a crossfire—

But all too close to a decades-old secretthat will force him into another.

The former detective swore he’d never play anyone’s postman. But a dying friend’s plea takes Donnally bearing a letter alive with tragedy toward a sister long dead—the victim of the bizarre criminality of a counterculture that had lost its way.

Stunned to learn that her killer was never prosecuted, Donnally soon finds himself in battle against a broken justice system and on a trail of evil into a dangerous borderland in which the falsely pious and the wealthy abuse the young and the poor. And though each step takes him farther down a perilous path that wrenches him between his inner demons and his mission to redeem a brother’s love, he won’t stop until he knows the truth.

For Donnally made a promise to a dead man, and he’ll keep it—or die trying.

More About the Author

Steven Gore is the author of the Graham Gage and Harlan Donnally thrillers and is a former private investigator in the San Francisco Bay Area. His novels draw on his investigations into organized crime, fraud, murder, money laundering, political corruption and drug, sex and arms trafficking throughout East, South and Southeast Asia, Western and Central Europe and the Americas. He has been honored for his investigative achievements, has been featured on 60 Minutes, and has lectured to attorney and investigator organizations on subjects ranging from police misconduct to the design of investigative databases. Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

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See all 49 customer reviews
Steven Gore has woven quite an interesting tale in Act of Deceit.
knitting ninja
This was a rivetting story from beginning to end and I can hardly wait for the next Harlan Donnally adventure.
Darla Mcgranaghan
Definitely recommended, and I look forward to reading more from Mr. Gore in the future...
Psychic Cypher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harlan Donnally was a former San Francisco Police Detective who was retired on disability after being shot on the job.

He's happy running a small cafe in Northern California but, as the story begins, he promises a dying friend to find the friend's younger sister, Anna, who he placed in a home when she was five-years-old.

Tragically, Donnally finds that Anna was killed years ago and her alleged killer was never prosecuted because he was found to be incompetent.

Because of a situation concerning Donnally's father, Dopnnally feels the need to find truth and searches for answers about what happened in the 1970s in the Berkley community of anti war protests and drug culture and what could have led to Anna's murder.

Donnally is on a mission to help his deceased friend and deliver justice that is long overdue. In this, he's the lone voice demanding that Anna's murder not go unpunished.

Donnally is able to find the accused killer, Charles Brown, and brings him to court, only to have a 'do gooder' organization claim that Brown is the victim. This makes Donnally wonder if there is more to this case than he first considered. Could some powerful person be hiding behind Brown's craziness?

Donnally's search takes him to places that neither he nor the reader could forsee. This freshness in plot is dramatically described and realistic. He's the type of investigator who doesn't give up and employees some creative measures to get answers.

I found this story to be very entertaining and look forward to seeing more excellence from the author, Steve Gore
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Newman VINE VOICE on September 15, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This story had all the elements of a good tale. It had a catchy beginning; a former detective needs to track down the sister of a friend who recently died, even though it is an uncomfortable situation for him. It had a good plot; as detective investigates he finds the woman was murdered by someone who seemed to have beaten the justice system. It has good, constant plot twists; maybe the man accussed of the murder didn't do it, maybe the investigation will uncover something a lot bigger. The author even provides an afterword on how he developed the tale and that afterword was actually quite interesting.

The main character could have been interesting. He was actually named Donnally Harlan but decided to reverse his names. That part of the tale was quite interesting. Donally is very methodical and very good at predicting what people will do in a given tense situation.

Alas, the tale was written by an author who seemed to be writing for himself with little concept about how that tale should be properly conveyed to a reader that did not live the plot. It seemed almost like the writer was writing in a stream of consiousness mode. This writing style killed the tale for me and I found myself forcing myself to read it. However, many times I was feeling I just wanted to skip to the end and see how it wrapped up and then move on. That is why I couldn't see myself giving it more than two stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Gramlich VINE VOICE on September 17, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harlan Donnally wants to accommodate his friend's dying wish to turn his estate over to his only living heir, the sister he had to part with when she was five. Burying his friend and finding the man's sister are more complicated than he could have ever imagined as what starts out simple, turns into a hornets nest of trouble. The search and contact, becomes a mystery involving a decades old crime, a commune with questionable dealings, and a broken judicial system all collided into a mishandled murder.

Harlan found his friend's sister Anna had murdered and no one ever really stopped to question if the man prosecuted really committed the crime as he was deem incompetent to stand trial. The state put him in a mental facility, closed the case and no one ever monitored what happened to him after that. The problem is the man is loose and Harlan needs to find him to confirm the facts but once he does the facts get grayer and the list of suspects larger and more powerful. Harlan keeps digging and what he finds goes beyond criminal misconduct and into the dealings of the Catholic Church, psychiatrists that use their profession to disguise their secrets, drug cartels, and a Charitable Foundation using its funds to hide its secrets while pretending to set the innocent free.

Harlan is still working through the issues with his father, trying to commit to his girlfriend, run his business, and deal with the fact that he is a retired cop on disability. He may carry a gun but he that does not give him the right to shoot first and ask questions later. Harlan still believe the truth means you search until you find it so nothing will stop him from figuring out who is doing what to whom.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tom McGee VINE VOICE on August 21, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After reading Steven Gore's Absolute Risk last December, I was not a big fan of this author. To be fair, I thought I would give him another chance with Act of Deceit. I am glad I did.

After reading the first hundred pages twice I picked up on the author's writing style and became interested in both the characters and the plot.

Harland Donnally reluctantly promised his dying friend, Maurico Quintero, that upon his death he would seek out Maurico's sister, Anna, and deliver his confession letter to her explaining where she came from.

Upon Maurico's death, Donnally read his letter and learned that Maurico's mother died while giving birth to Anna. At 15 years of age Maurico killed his father after walking in on him in the act of rapping his 5 year old sister, Anna.

Maurico then left Anna at the doorsteps of people he thought would raise her properly without involving the police, after which he disappeared into a new life with a new last name.

During Donnally's search he learned that Anna was a wonderful, educated human being, loved by many, yet was brutally murdered. The purported killer may have been faking mentally retardation and was released from the court to a mental institution and walked away from these incompetent systems.

Determined to unravel a convoluted set of circumstances to find and bring those responsible for Anna's murder to justice, as he gets closer to the truth, people try to kill him, yet Donnally perseveres.

Donnally's self-imposed mission to find those responsible for Anna's death takes him on an enthralling journey leading to unsuspected amoral perpetrators, in both Mexico and the United States, who he is hell bent on bringing to justice or die trying.

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