Steve O'Brien (author); BULLET WORK; A and N Publishing (Fiction: Thriller) $14.95 ISBN: 9780982073599
Byline: Elizabeth Breau
Poetic ruminations about randomness punctuate the action in this mystery set on the "backside" of Fairfax Park's racetrack: "Who would be wealthy, who would be poor? Who would have fame, who obscurity? Into each life the second would come, without warning, without hint Life became the response to the second." These philosophical, foreboding passages transcend the novel's specificity -- its insular, transient community of racetrack devotees who endure long hours and low pay to be near the creatures they adore -- to become an insightful analysis of character and motivation.
The track in season provides an irresistible draw for Dan, a divorced attorney who owns Aly Dancer, a filly who shows real potential. Unlike his betting companions, Magic Milt, who squanders his income at the track, and Lennie, a brilliant mathematician who supports himself on racetrack winnings, Dan relishes life on the backside. He is fascinated by the activity behind the track as well as by the personalities who populate it.
When an extortionist requires a "safety fee," and murders two horses to make his point, Dan delays payment, opting instead for a round-the-clock human presence near Aly Dancer's stall. In the meantime, he takes AJ, a young, taciturn hot walker with an uncanny ability to communicate with horses, under his wing after witnessing how the boy is bullied by other walkers...