Monday, January 13, 2020

Fatal Odds (Knight & Devlin #5), by John F. Dobbyn (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Oceanview Publishing, December 2017

Michael Knight is a successful, young, Boston lawyer, the younger partner in Devlin & Knight. Michael doesn't always play it safe, and that adds to the stress of senior partner Lex Devlin, secretary Julie, and fiancée Terri.

Michael Knight looks like a nice Boston Irish boy, but his mother is Puerto Rican, and he speaks Spanish, enjoys Puerto Rican cuisine, and, most importantly for this story, has two cousins, brothers Victor and Roberto Mendoza, who are now jockeys at Boston's thoroughbred racing track, Suffolk Downs.

Michael is at the track, watching a race in which Victor and Roberto are both racing, when something goes horribly wrong. Victor's horse moves sideways into Roberto's, a collision in which Roberto's horse goes down, and Roberto is critically injured. By the next morning, Roberto is dead, and the DA wants to charge Victor with being involved in fixing the race, and with felony murder, for the death of his brother.

Knight starts out looking for his cousin, who has seemingly gone into hiding, and trying to figure out how he could have become involved in a race-fixing scheme, something that would have outraged both brothers. Along the way, he discovers the real scheme is much bigger, much nastier, and much more dangerous. It takes Knight back to his own blessedly brief involvement in a local Puerto Rican gang as a teenager, to his Puerto Rican roots, and into some of the darker corners of Boston's organized crime scene. A form of smuggling he hadn't even known existed play a key role, and the question of who can be trusted and who can't becomes complicated and alarming.

One compelling aspect of this book for me is that the city of Boston really is a character here, and it's the Boston I know. Dobbyn knows the streets, the places, the neighborhoods and cultures. Not every detail is true to Boston today, but the bits that aren't true now were true in the very recent past. Dobbyn is from here, and you can tell.

The bonus extra is that the narrator, Bill Nevitt has his Boston accents (yes, multiple accents, from different neighborhoods, local cultures, and education levels) as close to perfect as I've heard in audiobooks. I suppose it's no surprise for anyone from an area with a distinctive general accent that isn't American standard that performers rarely get it truly right, or to anyone anywhere that local variations obvious to anyone from the area are always glossed over. I have no idea where Nevitt is from, so I'm just going with, this is a serious professional who cares about getting things right. It added to the pleasure of listening to this audiobook.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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