Blind Switch

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jack Doyle, the hero of John McEvoy’s first novel, finds himself in what his friends in the horseracing business call a “blind switch.” Recently fired from his sales job, Doyle is recruited by Moe Kellman, a sparring partner at his gym, to help fix a race. Things go wrong, however, and Doyle is caught by FBI agents. They, in turn, recruit him to gain evidence against Harvey Rexroth, a multimillionaire media mogul and racehorse owner despised by most in the industry. The FBI suspects Rexroth of masterminding a series of crimes including murdering horses to collect insurance. With the help of Aldous Bolger, Rexroth’s upright farm manager, Doyle is placed at Willowdale, the mogul’s Kentucky farm. There he manages to learn how Rexroth’s horses are being killed. He also stumbles upon a sinister plot in which the tycoon plans to take revenge on the racing industry by switching a horse he had bred secretly with a look-alike that had amassed a mediocre record at the track.

Throughout the story Doyle is involved in serious danger, crossing paths with Rexroth’s psychopathic henchman Ronald Mortvedt. At the same time, he falls in love with Bolger’s widowed sister. In a comic subplot, a disgruntled ex-employee of Rexroth bumbles along in his attempts to assassinate his former boss. The climax brings together several disparate story lines as Doyle and FBI agents spring a trap on Rexroth by pulling a switch to run the plodder rather than Rexroth’s ringer in a major stakes race.

McEvoy, a successful journalist who has specialized in writing about the world of horse racing, deftly weaves together the various plots that make up the fabric of Blind Switch. Using this technique, he is able to create suspense for readers who might anticipate the inevitable happy conclusion for the hero. Additionally, his vivid language and sharp characterization help to hold readers’ interest in this fast-paced thriller. Unquestionably, in his inaugural work of fiction, John McEvoy demonstrates exceptional command of his new medium.