There is a world of owners, trainers, hot-walkers, grooms, vets, stall muckers that all work behind the scenes of horse racing. These people work on the "backside" of this highly competitive world. It is here that this story takes place.
As Opening Day approaches to this Virginia racetrack, horses are dying. As the season progresses more horses are killed. All in a scam to extort money from the trainers by some unknown person or group who want to be paid to keep the horses safe.
This becomes personal for the lead character of this book, Dan Morgan as one of his prize horses is targeted. Dan with the help of a very special young man, who seems to have a gift with horses, begin a mission to try to find out who is behind these awful killings and shut down the extortion scam all while keeping themselves from becoming the next targets.
My knowledge of horse racing before reading this book was pretty minimal. I have watched races like the Kentucky Derby on television so I know horses run around a track and people bet on who will win, place or show. This book gave me quite an education in the art of horse racing, from the learning which horses can run in each race, to the life behind the scenes of the track.
The story was also very interesting as to the lengths some people will go to to pad their own pockets. O'brien writes a great story of mystery leaving us guessing until the last chapter as to the culprits responsible for the deaths of the horses, but he also lets us fall in love with the character of AJ and then breaks our hearts.
The book is fast paced and while the story revolves around the extortion mystery, I found it more of a story of loyalty, trust and friendship. A race horse costs a great deal of money depending on age and talent so the owner has to trust the people he puts in charge of their care. The employees of the owner must be loyal not only to the owner but each other and give the horse the best care possible. But beyond all that what resonated for me was the friendship that developed between the young, AJ and Dan Morgan. An owner and a man who did probably the lowest of jobs on the "backside". There was a connection from the moment they met, that at first was resisted by AJ, but as the story progressed so did that friendship. AJ was a special person with a special gift, Dan was the only one to truly recognize this.
I found this book to be a very enjoyable read and will look forward to seeing more from this author. He does have another book out Elijah's Coin thats looks very good and highly acclaimed.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Cadence Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.