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by Max Porter

Pub Date: June 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1461032250
Publisher: CreateSpace

The FBI recruits horse trainer Chance Holden to help track down an elite, mysterious assassin.

Chance Holden is going about the business of training and racing horses when two men ask him to advise them on how to buy a race horse so they can break into the horse-racing game. The men turn out to be FBI agents Robert Goodman and William St. Germaine, who are after a slick, world-class assassin who never makes a mistake and may be connected to horse racing. Holden believes the FBI is chasing its tail and that his peers will see him as a turncoat when his involvement is eventually revealed, but he reluctantly agrees to help the agents. Initially, the story revolves around the subculture of horse racing, its nuances and the colorful characters that inhabit it. Porter dishes on the inner workings and gritty realities of horse racing, which largely fascinates but occasionally drags due to an overabundance of detail. The action advances from a walk to a trot when Holden overhears a group of trainers reveal key information about someone involved with the track. As the FBI closes in on the assassin, the action hits a gallop; the assassin and his cohort in crime elude capture, putting Holden at risk because his role as informant has been discovered. As the final stretch approaches, the story falters and loses ground; bad guys come out of the woodwork, making it impossible to keep track of what’s going on. The author tries to tie up too many loose ends too quickly, which confuses the action. Despite the poor finish, Porter’s prose mostly prances at a solid pace. The tension escalates nicely, and the characters’ dialogue rings true, avoiding any sense of artificiality.

An informative, entertaining thriller that finishes just out of the money.