Jack Doyle returns for the fourth time to find out who’s fixing horse races and uncovers murder.
Thirty years after they began gathering to place their bets and watch the races, seven old college buddies hit the jackpot, winning the Pick Six for $1 million. Forming a syndicate dubbed The Significant Seven, they invest their winnings in horses of their own. The proceeds from their champion stallion are divided equally; when any of them dies, the profits will be divided among the survivors in a tontine whose ultimate beneficiary is to be a home for retired racehorses. But all is not well at the track. Someone’s been “sponging,” secretly cramming a sponge up the noses of favored horses to slow their breathing in order to rig races. The FBI asks Jack Doyle, ex-boxer and denizen of the racing world (Close Call, 2008, etc.), to go undercover. Meanwhile, two mercenary thugs, veterans of the transparently veiled “Aqua Negro,” are bumping off the Significant Seven, disguising the murders as accidents. Jack spends his time shooting the breeze with ethnic stereotypes of the underworld; dating a pretty, plucky trainer down on her luck; and unsurprisingly getting nowhere with the case. After the fifth member of the Significant Seven dies, Jack finally catches on when he becomes a target himself. Relying on process of elimination and an utterly implausible bit of stupidity by the murderers, Jack solves both cases.
Strictly for those who play the ponies.