Acid and Bribery
Jeanne Ann Off captures the fascinating world of horse racing in her enjoyable novel Acid and Bribery. Written with an extreme knowledge of the sport, Off fuses mystery, sabotage, family drama, and a hint of romance to create a riveting story.
At Derbyrun Downs racetrack in Colorado, Kelsey Kelley overhears a private conversation between two people plotting to interfere with the outcome of the upcoming Quarter Horse Derby, the biggest stakes race at Derbyrun Downs. Unfortunately, Kelsey is unable to see the faces of those involved in the scheme. Given the content of the conversation and the series of unusual events that follow, she fears that her favorite horse, Tomar El Oro, a beautiful sorrel stallion and the favorite to win the Quarter Horse Derby, is in extreme danger; though it soon becomes apparent that Kelsey’s own life is at risk. Meanwhile, Kelsey’s father, Pete Kelley, happily remarried to his new wife, Francesca, returns years after abandoning Kelsey and her mother, Loren. To Kelsey’s surprise, her mother seems to accept them quickly, but Kelsey struggles with inviting them into her life. However, Kelsey could use all the help and support she can get from those she can trust, including her best friend, Saira Rios, and her security guard crush, Blaine Carthege, in order to stop the plans of the unidentifiable conspiring pair before it’s too late.
The highlight of Off’s novel is her characters and the way they relate to each other. Most of her characters are fully developed with a complicated history, relatable motivations, alluring qualities, and convincing relationships that will keep readers turning the pages to discover more. Because there are so many key characters, many of whom are introduced in the opening chapters, reading may feel more like a chore at the start to keep all of the names straight; however, as the characters become more familiar, the story reads much more fluidly.
Off had the very difficult task of writing a novel about horse racing in a way that is approachable for a general audience, but she certainly mastered this exceptionally well. She immerses readers in the hardworking environment of the stables, the unfairness and dishonesty surrounding the races, and the family-like culture that can flourish among those working in the industry. She even provides an extensive glossary at the end of her book that defines common terms, a helpful tool for any reader needing the additional explanation. At times, however, Off’s writing contains superfluous details that read like an instructional manual or rule book. These tedious moments are easily forgivable due to the rest of the novel’s cinematic narrative.
At the end of the book, following the glossary, is an unexplained list of Bible scripture as well as the first chapter of Off’s forthcoming book, titled Mouse with a Clue. With an intriguing plot full of shocking twists, beloved characters, and proficient writing, Acid and Bribery is an excellent example of equestrian fiction.
|Author||Jeanne Ann Off|
|Page Count||158 pages|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|