Sunday, August 11, 2013

19. Nice Fillies Finish Last by Brett Halliday

Really you couldn't ask for a better combo of cover and title to incite snickers and contempt from the modern literary set.  I'm pretty sure this might be the first Mike Shayne book I've read.  I didn't have a high regard for the series before I read this.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the book more intelligent and complex than I would have suspected.  In particular, the author had a very deft way of portraying his characters as one way in the beginning and then revealing their true corruption as the story went on. I found myself actually believing their initial stories and found myself taken by them later on in the book.  The detective work is quite good as well.  The framing of the story and Shayne himself are fairly standard stuff, with him being super cool and having all the neatest gadgets, but the meat of the story, I would say, was a step above what I expected and leads me to keep an eye out for other Mike Shayne books.

Here, Shayne's gambling buddy and reporter gets a hot tip on the carriage races from a usually reliable stable hand.  It's a complex affair involving betting on three races in the day.  The reporter convinces Shayne to come out with him at two in the morning to meet the stable hand and back him on the tip.  The guy doesn't show up and the two guys write it off as a bum tip.  Until the stable hand shows up dead, of alchohol poisoning.  This leads us into a complex mix surrounding a wealthy stable owner, his wife and a satyr-like jockey (and several other characters).  There is some dark stuff here, especially at the end, as the true nastiness of what already was kind of a nasty relationship is revealed.  There is some good action too.  My only problem is that I don't know anything about gambling on the horses and the complexities surrounding the betting and the scams behind it were lost to me.  Nevertheless, this filly rode well and I look forward to future installments.

1 comment:

Kelly Robinson said...

Well, what do you know? I have a few of these around for yucks, because you can't beat the covers, but I never thought they might be worth reading.