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Dead Man's Touch    by Kit Ehrman order for
Dead Man's Touch
by Kit Ehrman
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I surprised myself when I picked this novel out to read as I've never been very interested in horse racing. But I've always loved Dick Francis's books, so thought, 'What the heck! Go for it.' Am I glad I did. This book came out of the starting gate and never stopped. Action all the way. Fast-paced and hard-hitting, Dead Man's Touch kept me turning pages as fast as I could scan them. Though I did not read Ehrman's first book, At Risk, you can be sure I will correct that error quickly.

Steve Cline's world is falling apart. The father who ignored him from the time he was eleven is killed in an accident. At the funeral, Steve discovers he is not this man's child. While searching for his biological father, he stumbles into horse racing gone bad. That's where the story takes off at a gallop. Steve is beaten, attacked with a stun gun and accused of murder. He is a likeable young man with a sense of what is right or wrong, but not a wuss either, the kind of man you'd wish your granddaughter would meet. Other characters are also real and believable.

The backside of the racing world is depicted in such a way that the daily workings of a racetrack come alive with the smell of hay and horses, the sound of hooves pounding a track, the creak of leather, the hot blare of the sun, the many hours of monotonous, repetitive work and the thrill of the few minutes of each race. Kit Ehrman can pick up Dick Francis's banner. He delivers as suspenseful and exciting a story as the master, but with tender love scenes as well. I look for more from Ehrman with anticipation.

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