The Bottom Line
- A fast-paced mystery novel about a horse owner becoming a mob target
- Very accurate portrayal of life on the backstretch and at a stallion farm
- Takes Dick Francis' use of medical terminology to a new level; written by a practising surgeon
- Should be enjoyed by fans of the Dick Francis style of racing mystery writing
- May not be of interest to racing fans who prefer non-fiction work
- Story appears to be full of cliches such as mob bosses and materialistic wives
- New York plastic surgeon Anthony Gianni joins a racehorse partnership and a share in top colt Chiefly Endeavour
- The horse turns out to be an early Triple Crown favorite after winning the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park
- One investor, Chester Pawlak, bought out most of the partners that owned Chiefly Endeavour
- Gianni, feeling Derby fever, refused to sell his share and thus found himself in business with the mobster
- Pawlak owed his boss a large sum of money and intended to use the horse to pay that debt
- Gianni was between the proverbial "rock and a hard place", trying to save his horse's life, and ultimately his own
Guide Review - Shedrow: a novel by Dean DeLuke
The main character, Anthony Gianni, is a plastic surgeon from New York who gets involved in horse ownership through a partnership. The star horse in the stable, Chiefly Endeavour, shows signs that he might be Triple Crown material, which led to another investor buying out many of the partners, however Gianni refused to sell his share. That decision proved to be a painful one, literally and figuratively, as the new majority owner, Chester Pawlak, has mob connections and owes the boss a large debt, intending to kill the horse to use the insurance money to cover the loan.
Along with mob figures and medical personnel, DeLuke includes veterinary specialists, Kentucky rural folk, high society, and the racing elite, all of which tangle a web of connections that doesn't begin to unravel until the later stages of the book, as you would expect from a well-written mystery novel. DeLuke not only brings in many interesting characters into the mix, he moves the story around to various locales. The NYRA circuit of Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct are prominent in the story, with some scenes taking place at Keeneland and Gulfstream Park (where the characters complain about how Frank Stronach rebuilt it), as well as darkened alleyways in Newark, a garbage dump in eastern Kentucky, the posh "21" Club and Gallagher's Steakhouse in Manhattan, and the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Dick Francis liked to use medical terminology in his mysteries, but DeLuke takes this to a new level, as a practicing surgeon describing accurately and in vivid detail what he would see during a typical shift at the hospital.
Shedrow is a fast-paced story which should satisfy Dick Francis fans looking for a made-in-America horse racing mystery. Even those who do not follow horse racing are quickly shown the ropes of the sport by DeLuke, who started with horses working on his father's farm in upstate New York and then years later, joining Dogwood Stable.