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Dead Money    by Steve O'Brien order for
Dead Money
by Steve O'Brien
Order:  USA  Can
A & N Publishing, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This novel begins with a couple of unspeakable acts of violence that quickly establish the fact that the bad guy in this story is really a nasty piece of work. Vasily Korsakov, the money man for the Russian Solntsevskaya crime brotherhood dubbed the Bratva, knows how to launder funds in legitimate businesses and make the crime syndicate a pile of money.

Vasily has concocted a scheme tro make a fortune by loading the show pool for a race at Churchill Downs. If you are not familiar with this technique for making a big and illicit payoff at a race track, the author will explain how this is done as the story unfolds.

Dan Morgan is a likeable Los Angeles lawyer who owns a race horse, Aly Dancer, that is headed to the Kentucky race track for a date with destiny. Standing in the way of seeing this unheralded thoroughbred achieve greatness is, of course, Korsakov. He wants to buy the horse and offers Dan the unheard of sum of a million dollars for Aly Dancer.

Naturally, Dan says 'No!' and immediately the trouble begins with the murder of the horse's trainer. The closer the story gets to the big race, the more O'Brien increases the tension, and trying to figure out exactly what the scam is keeps the reader interested.

As with his other thrillers, the author provides a lot of information on horse racing and life at the backside of the track. Unfortunately, the ending of Dead Money isn't as satisfying as one would like to see. Yes, the door remains open to a sequel, but I'm not sure anyone will want to read it but real, die-hard, racing fans and perhaps O'Brien's buddies.

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