McCoy, A P - 'Taking the Fall'
Duncan is a young jockey whose father, a former successful trainer, has been banned from the sport because of drugs and race-fixing. Duncan's father now lives in a residential home because of his dementia. He was set-up by unscrupulous rivals and Duncan is determined not only to rise to the top of his profession but also to take revenge on the three people he believes are behind the conspiracy to ruin his father.
Duncan has a reputation for saying exactly what he feels and thinks and has upset owners and trainers alike, so therefore sometimes struggles for rides, but his fortunes change when he is chosen to ride for a trainer, Quinn, and is approached by an ex-jockey setting up as an agent. Women find him very attractive and his new love, Lorna, is besotted with him. The fact that she is also the only daughter of Cadogan, the trainer instrumental in his father's downfall, is an added bonus.
The story is set in 1979 and I am not sure why, as I feel it could easily have taken place now. This doesn't detract from the story, although sometimes it did feel dated, but nor does it enhance it either. This is a minor niggle as it a fast-paced novel, an easy read and one that is hard to put down. Drugs, money laundering and conspiracy are major themes in the book, but the author's love and knowledge of horses and horse racing shines through.
This is the first novel by the ex-champion jockey, A P McCoy, and the book certainly has an authentic and authoritative ring in the racing passages. The story and writing holds its own against the likes of Dick Francis and John Francome, although the more graphic sex scenes in this were a bit unexpected and, I suspect, may not be to some readers' tastes. Those scenes can easily be skipped over if wished, without spoiling the story, although this does raise the question why they were there in the first place.
TAKING THE FALL is a good read and recommended. I will be looking out for more by the writer.
Susan White, England
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