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Dead Heat

Dead Heat

by William Murray. Eclipse Press, 288pp. RRP $US24.95. ISBN 1-58150-131-5

November 18, 2005

Relatively unknown in New Zealand, this is, sadly, the last of William Murray's novels. Described as America's answer to Dick Francis, the writer died in March 2005 aged 78 before the publication of Dead Heat. Among other novels and non-fiction titles, he also wrote nine involving horse racing, and was a journalist and playwright.

Readers used to the style of Dick Francis will find a definite American flavour and more colloquial style in Dead Heat. The chapters are a good length for those who can handle only a few minutes of reading a night.

Of course the style of training and the industry in the US is vastly different to what we're used to, but when it all boils down the action could take place anywere.

Set at Santa Anita racetrack in California, the protagonists are a trainer with serious personal problems, a former mobster who wants to forget his old life, and a young female jockey who has a murky past but is good enough to "make it" in the game - if she gets the breaks.

Each of the characters are developed in an easy style, and of the minor characters (who are bound to mirror real-life people - somewhere!) there's a naughty politician, a filthy rich owner, egotistical trainers, and betting addicts on the lookout for the next big thing.

The ending is somewhat of a sudden surprise, but that's racing.

 

 

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