Stalking Horse

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Colman Killebrew was a highly successful jockey until a race-fixing scandal resulted in his suspension from professional horse racing. Killebrew was not guilty, but his only chance to prove his innocence was Francie Dorn, and she vanished along with the alleged ill-gotten gains. Still, Killebrew managed to survive as part owner of a restaurant until Raymond Starbuck made him an offer he would rather refuse.

Starbuck drove Killebrew from the track, and Killebrew wishes him nothing but ill. Nevertheless, Starbuck knows Francie Dorn’s location. Thus, much against his better judgment, Killebrew agrees to participate in a dangerous scheme. Starbuck wants to foil Remy Courville’s attempted takeover of a California racetrack run by a Clara McGuinn. Killebrew likes Clara McGuinn, but he most definitely wants to talk to Francie Dorn. Therefore, while the plan seems destined to leave him bleeding in a ditch, he agrees to act as Starbuck’s stalking horse.

As any soldier can attest, few plans survive the first shot, and “General” Starbuck soon discovers that his reluctant subordinate is flying by the seat of his pants. Once Killebrew learns that his employer is highly chary with information vital to his survival, all bets are off in an innovative attempt to employ his own talents to bring down Courville. Meanwhile, Starbuck pursues a separate line of investigation and faces considerable perils of his own.

Bill Shoemaker was one of the most successful riders in the history of thoroughbred racing; Dick Lochte, his collaborator, is an accomplished mystery writer. Together, Shoemaker and Lochte prove to be a highly successful team in this entertaining, suspenseful, and thoroughly enjoyable first time effort.