Sure to invite comparison to Dick Francis, former jockey Shoemaker, with four Kentucky Derbies among his 8833 racing wins, proves even faster out of the gate with this debut thriller. Ex-jockey Coley Killebrew, barred from his sport in a scandal seven years ago when Raymond Starbuck was head of the Racing Commission, is now ``co-owner'' (with a Vegas big shot) of an L.A. restaurant. Urged on by Starbuck's tall, blonde, gorgeous daughter Lea, Coley agrees when Starbuck asks him to investigate a rural Louisiana racetrack that may have come under the control of a group that he knows is trying to take over a California track owned by a respected racing figure. The plot is big, complicated and Thoroughbred-fast as Coley's hard-boiled, first-person chapters alternate with a third-person focus on Starbuck. Shoemaker's characters provide the most fun: jaded New Orleans aristocrats, the mob, a murderous gold-digger, the FBI, cops and racing denizens all rub elbows to varied effect. Readers will hope to see more of Coley and of the imperious, devious, martini-swilling rascal Starbuck. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994 Release date: 03/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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