Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review - High Stakes


High Stakes: A Jack Doyle Mystery

By: John McEvoy
Illustrated By: Charles Shockley
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 9781464202742
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 19, 2015

There is no doubt that the world of Thoroughbred race horses can be exciting and glamorous but where there is money, corruption seems to follow. That is a fact that Jack Doyle has come to terms with as lately he has done well exposing some dark secrets in the world of horse racing and now the FBI has asked him for help on a new case involving horse killings. Apparently the killer finds Thoroughbred horses that have been donated to colleges and universities and injects them with a lethal substance causing them to die almost instantly. Then after the terrible deed is done the killer leaves a note with the letters ALWD standing for Animal Life With Dignity and a message reading, “No More Exploitation For This One Of God's Creatures.”

Of course this seems to be the act of a crazy animal rights activist to Jack but with no real leads to go on he knows the only way to gain any information is to hang around the track and see if any talk around there could lead to some clues. Using all of the contacts he has made working around the track Jack talks to trainers, jockeys, owners, and a veterinarian named Ingrid but no one seems to know anything that could be of help. The FBI agents become even more desperate when these killings continue and constantly harp on Jack to provide some answers but of course there is only so much that can be done with so little information.

In the meantime Jack receives a call from a friend from Ireland asking if he would come to an awards banquet for a former jockey he was an agent for. While enjoying the trip to Ireland Jack gets a message from a friend’s wife saying she is concerned there may be someone out to harm her husband but he just keeps blowing it off. So, suddenly on top of attempting to solve the horse killings in the U.S., Jack is trying to help a friend who is across an ocean to stay safe from whoever might be trying to hurt him. In addition, there is a plot brewing unknown to Jack that centers on an attempt of his own life.

With my interest in horses this was an easy book choice for me as I loved reading a mystery in the midst of the horse racing world. Even though I have not read any of John McEvoy's other books I instantly connected with the character of Jack Doyle and enjoyed every chapter of this story. Especially towards the ends I could not bring myself to put this book down until I reached the conclusion and I love when books keep me holding on like that. The plot created in this book was quite intricate but McEvoy ties everything together so well that I was able to keep up with the story and not once did I get lost in what was happening.

Quill says: An absolutely intriguing mystery with a perfect setting!