Ruffian: The Story Of A Jockey
By Beverly Harrison
Syd Paul, a female jockey, is attacked during a race and tragedy results. She finds herself racing for the finish line and for her life as she’s involved in a scheme to make sure certain horses don’t win. Who’s behind the race fixing? Joe McQueen, detective, is on the case, but can he be there when it’s down to the wire and the photo finish may mean life or death. Ain’t no horsing around in this book.
Okay, I will admit to being a Dick Francis fan and so I was intrigued by this one. I like the premise. It’s a simple plot with lots of action, some dirty deeds, and no lack of horses.
Sydney Paul: jockey, 30ish, strong, 5’2”, long dark hair, drives a mini Cooper
Maria: Syd’s valet, Hispanic
Stevie Pike: Syd’s agent
Joe McQueen: police detective, blue eyes
There are few others and I like the variety of the cast. Syd’s quick with a movie line and I like her spunk. Joe could have had a bit more ‘character’ rather than playing the handsome cop. I would have like to have seen a quirk or two. I didn’t like McQueen’s supervisor who needed some smoothing out of the rather rough edges.
For the most part okay. However, now we start running into problems. During Syd’s second kidnapping (sorry to play a bit of a spoiler here), the conversation she has with the kidnapper isn’t believable. After going through a horrendous and terrifying first kidnapping, instead of showing that she’s scared out of her wits, which would be natural, she’s having a “Don’t you think you’ve made bad life choices” talk with her abductor. And he’s buying it, sort of.
Profanity and almost too much from the board of directors.
First person from Syd’s POV.
The problems multiply here with: missed punctuation and capitalization errors. The biggest problem I found that became very annoying is with tense. Most of the book is past tense, but Syd breaks into present tense a lot. And not just when she’s thinking. For instance: Mary walked down the street. (Past tense) I must remember to buy some milk. (Present). This works because she’s thinking about it. But there are too many cases where the author abruptly switches to present tense and it clearly doesn’t work.
As mentioned lots of action, including a graphic kidnapping scene. Good climax with the final race.
However, to be fair, I can’t overlook the mistakes. Clean up the writing and I’ll be back for another adventure with Syd.