cover image Riders Down

Riders Down

John McEvoy, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-258-9

The death of 98-year-old Chicago bookie Bernie Glockner is ruled a suicide at the start of McEvoy's fine second horse-racing mystery (after 2004's Blind Switch ), but Glockner's nephew, mob-connected Moe Kellman, knows better and asks racing columnist Matt O'Connor to sniff around a bit. Glockner's demise proves merely the first of many as a brilliant, eccentric and ruthless villain embarks on a twisted path to claiming a fortune. Horse racing has always attracted a wide range of colorful characters, and McEvoy portrays them all with an obvious affection and a sharp eye, from jockeys, trainers and touts to fans, newsmen and suckers. O'Connor has few illusions about the sport, but even he is unprepared for the kind of peril unleashed by his probing a race-fixing scam. Unlike Jack Doyle, the reluctant sleuth in Blind Switch , O'Connor is a natural with all the makings of a series hero. He combines charm, racing expertise and a willingness to go the distance that will carry the reader all the way to the finish line. (Mar.)