Too Close To Call, by Graeme Roe

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The Independent Culture

If the Cheltenham Festival showcased the best of horseracing, thrillers tend to portray its darker side, so it's perhaps curious that they seem to be written by some of the game's most enthusiastic advocates. While he would never claim to have matched the track achievements of Dick Francis, John Francome or Jenny Pitman, Graeme Roe rode as an amateur jump jockey (why is it all these authors come from National Hunt racing rather than the Flat?) for 10 years, starting aged 40, then took up training. His fourth book once more features the trainer Jay Jessop, plus a supporting cast of secretive jockeys, dodgy businessmen, East End wide boys and East European hoods.

The style is somewhat formulaic – grins are usually broad, comments enigmatic – but the plot is soundly constructed and the race descriptions are deftly done. Most importantly, the book fulfils the primary requirement of any good thriller, or race; it grips your attention from start to finish.

Published by Robinson in paperback, £6.99