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The plot of a fictional murder mystery comes unnervingly to life in a cleverly plotted tale with equestrian connections that falters only in the home stretch.

Gideon Turner and his wife Bea love horses. Until he was fired in a business downturn, Gideon worked for an agency that sold them to well-heeled clients, so it’s only natural that he should write a thriller with a horsy setting. The book is a bestseller, and Gideon is about to write another when he gets a letter from a man who addresses Gideon as Nathan Crosby, the murderer in Gideon’s novel. In a second letter, the writer claims he has chosen his first victim. The police are skeptical until Kate Winslow, the wife of a popular trainer, is found strangled with a Hermes scarf—just as Gideon’s first fictional victim was. As the body count mounts, meticulously following Gideon’s storyline, a jockey is abducted, then shot with a Luger, and a young female stablehand is killed off with a hatpin. In a series of phone calls, the man, now calling himself Harry, not only insists that he and Gideon are in this together but reveals a great deal of knowledge about Gideon and Bea, the kind of information that only an insider or close friend would have. As the police investigate Gideon’s associates, from his publisher (who is pleased with the notoriety) to a nosy neighbor, the murders continue until only one potential victim is left: the novelist's wife. Life for Bea, a spunky sort, is suddenly difficult and dangerous, but the police turn out to be not only less bumbling than usual but way ahead of aspiring sleuth Gideon.

An entertaining visit to Dick Francis-land that runs the master a highly respectable second.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-75283-694-3
Page count: 293pp
Publisher: Orion/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000