DEAD HORSES by Pat Hewitt


Email this review


California lawyer-turned-harness-trainer Anthony Whiting’s bad luck is only beginning when a stablehand finds Lucky Bet, a trotting colt he’s training for Zack Morris, dead in his stall, apparently electrocuted by a radio whose cord he’d gnawed too enthusiastically. Tony’s near future is crowded with troubles: a filly who somehow gets out of her stall and runs into the path of a speeding car, accusations that he’s illegally held back one of his mounts and doped another, a nasty spill that sends him to the hospital and his latest horse to the rendering plant. Meantime, he finds out that Lucky Bet never made it to the autopsy that Zack’s insurance company had ordered; the colt disappeared from the back of the truck carrying her and presumably ended up dumped at the renderers without the feet that might have identified him. What’s going on here? It looks as if somebody’s out to get Tony; but why would any of his enemies--shifty trainer Tacoma Jones, whose offer to throw a race he’d spurned; Shorty Padgett, the assistant he’d fired for drinking; or Tony’s own father, who’s never accepted his son’s decision to abandon his legal career for the stables--declare open season on so many horses? The answer to the riddle, together with the harness-racing background, is the best part of this debut, which reflects a close study of Dick Francis, but without Francis’s lightning grasp of character and control of tension. Hewitt will have to use the whip to catch the current contenders in the field: Jody Jaffe, Will Shoemaker, and--several lengths ahead of the pack--Mark Daniel.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7867-0508-6
Page count: 272pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998