Taking the Fall by A P McCoy
|Taking the Fall by A P McCoy|
|Reviewer: Peter Magee|
|Summary: A promising debut from a jockey at the top of his profession.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: October 2013|
Back in the nineteen seventies Duncan Claymore was a promising conditional jockey - a talented rider who should never have been short of a ride, but he was struggling, probably because he could neither take instructions nor keep his mouth shut. He'd been taught everything he knew by his father, Charlie, a trainer whose reputation was ruined when personal rivalries got out of hand. He hasn't been able to set foot on a racecourse since. His son's determined to beat the top jockeys and to bring down the men responsible for what happened to his father, but can he do both or will he have to make some hard choices?
McCoy is probably the most successful jump jockey of all time (in fact, not long after I wrote this review, AP rode his 4000th winner - an amazing achievement) and continues to ride at the top of his profession. It's safe to say that no one is likely to have better knowledge of the sport than AP. He's tough and uncompromising in the saddle and I was intrigued to see how this was reflected in his debut novel. Racing has always had its fair share of 'characters' and there's plenty of the darker side of the sport in these pages, but there's also a real taste of the atmosphere and sheer excitement. Having said that I was puzzled by the retitling of prominent races in the National Hunt calendar. Why, for example, was it necessary to rename what every Jumps enthusiast will recognise as the King George VI chase run at Kempton Park on Boxing Day?
Of course the story isn't going to exist only on the racecourse and McCoy makes the mistake common to many debut authors and relies on sex to give another dimension. I'm afraid that it's, er, not that successful - and occasionally overplayed. This was a pity as the basic storyline was not unrewarding and there was an excellent finish. Looking back on early Dick Francis novels McCoy is at least as good and he shows more promise than many other retired jockeys who've tried their hand at writing. Taking the Fall might not be Gold Cup standard but there's a great deal of promise there.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. For more flavours of the racing game you might like to try My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding. For a lightly-fictionalised look at the sport of kings we can recommend The King's Jockey by Lesley Gray.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Taking the Fall by A P McCoy at Amazon.com.
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