An upstart horse-training operation turns out to be the front for international intrigue in this ungainly saga.
Jockey turned trainer Jason Jessop and his heiress wife Eva are amazed when two of the most promising horses they’ve been developing are pulled out of County View, the stable they run, and sent to their Irish rival Quentin O’Connor. They’re dumbfounded when Paul Jenkins, whom Jay’s been grooming as head jockey, defects to O’Connor as well. The departures are part of a well-financed, deep-laid plan to commit fraud on a grand scale that can presumably be traced to escaped killer Liam Ahearne, who has a special grudge against Danny, Jay’s Head Man. In due course, Jay is framed for malicious vandalism against O’Connor; his property is hijacked and burned; Danny is shot; and Jay is nearly lured into a honey pot. None of this sound and fury makes any more impression than the globetrotting (“Jay and Eva had decided to stop off at Mauritius on their way to Hong Kong”), the horse races sprinkled generously through the tale or the escaped killer’s protestations of innocence when he’s recaptured. Roe (Odds on Death, 2005, etc.) swathes every melodramatic development in sawdust, and his prose is inert. The first chapter, which introduces all the main characters and a whole lot more, is a classic of expository dullness.
The mastermind is well-hidden behind dozens of equally forgettable suspects.