Poisoned Pen Press, Hardcover, 9781590584958, 286pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2008
Ex-amateur boxer and failed advertising account executive Jack Doyle, hero of Blind Switch, returns to the world of thoroughbred horse racing at a suburban Chicago track in this new thriller by the author of award-winning Riders Down. With the help of furrier-to-the-mob Moe Kellman, Doyle is hired as publicity director at Monee Park, a struggling suburban Chicago track owned by heiress Celia McCann. Celia is fighting to keep the business afloat while awaiting passage of a law allowing the introduction of lucrative video slot machines at Monee Park. Meanwhile, she is under pressure from her co-heir and cousin, Niall Hanratty, to close the track and sell the valuable property to real estate developers. Working hard to convince Celia to sell are a pair of hired thugs from Chicagoas Canaryville neighborhood. Celia, whose husband is afflicted with ALS, is determined to maintain the business inherited from her beloved uncle Jim Joyce. The exploits of star sprinter Rambling Rosie help Celiaas cause, as do the efforts of the redoubtable Doyle, again a somewhat reluctant knight errant who rises to the occasion when needed. Written from an insideras viewpoint, and featuring a robust cast of offbeat characters, Close Call provides entertaining insight into the unique world of American horse racing with a climax as exciting as a Derby photo finish.
John McEvoy's third novel set in and around Illinois' horse-racing industry (after 2006's "Riders Down") is reminiscent of iconic mystery author Dick Francis' whodunits that feature jockey-turned-detective Sid Halley. Like Francis, McEvoy's richly described and insightful depiction of the daily ebb and flow of racetrack life is so vivid readers will almost be able to smell the atmosphere...fans of Francis' will enjoy McEvoy's wry sense of humor and adeptly described array of people associated with horse racing, from owners to handlers to die-hard bettors. -- Chicago Tribune, May 17 2008