Tuesday, September 14, 2021

4 out of 4 stars Review of Hotwalker by OnlineBookClub.org: "I loved the way Rick Neumayer created the mystery and built the suspense in this engaging novel."


Review of Hotwalker

by Raluca_Mihaila » 10 Sep 2021, 18:05

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Hotwalker" by Rick Neumayer.]

4 out of 4 stars

Meet Jim Guthrie, a 40-year-old private investigator living in Louisville, Kentucky. He saves Libby Fontaine from a stupid boat accident; as a result, he gains a new pro bono client. Libby’s friend, Carlos Rojas, is a hotwalker from Guatemala who wants to find out who killed his father one year ago. For your information, a hotwalker helps horses to cool down after a race.

The investigation leads the protagonist to Churchill Downs, the horse racing complex where Felipe Rojas, the victim, worked as a groom. Jim has a wide range of suspects, starting with Felipe’s colleagues, like Juan Diaz, a drinker with a history of domestic violence. Herb Alexander (a rich guy with financial problems) and Freya Hall, the attractive veterinarian, are not excluded. One thing is certain—the crime is related to the thoroughbred horse racing business.

I loved the way Rick Neumayer created the mystery and built the suspense in this engaging novel. The writer let me follow the clues without revealing the killer, so I felt like Jim’s partner. The setting was actual; it mentioned the pandemic and Biden’s new policies. Nevertheless, I found some interesting facts about the horses. They prefer having smaller animals around, like goats or cats, but they dislike dogs. The book was very informative about the Kentucky Derby and the entire racing industry.

The author has a great sense of humor, and he poured it into the main character. For instance, after “absorbing a beating,” Jim “eased out to the porch with the grace of an arthritic octogenarian.” I also enjoyed the numerous artistic and cultural references. You would not expect a former cop such as Jim to paint as a hobby. However, expressing his feelings on a blank canvas help the protagonist deal with his emotions.

This captivating book will appeal to fans of crime mystery, investigations, or fast-pacing thrillers. Read the book if you want to discover what it takes to be a good jockey, a trainer, a groom, or a hotwalker. It might be unexpected, but the art lovers will encounter some pleasant surprises along the way. The author also included some insights regarding the immigration policies and the dire situation of the immigrants.

Hotwalker by Rick Neumayer gets a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because it is a very captivating read. There was nothing I disliked about the novel, and I only found several minor errors. It was my favorite type of book: entertaining and instructive, with a touch of humor inserted in the perfect

Friday, September 10, 2021

Kirkus Review of HOTWALKER: “A delightful whodunit with a remarkable hero and sublime Southern setting”

TITLE INFORMATION HOTWALKER A JIM GUTHRIE MYSTERY Rick Neumayer Literary Wanderlust (274 pp.) $14.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book ISBN: 978-1-942856-87-0 October 1, 2021 


In this mystery, a private eye braves Kentucky’s hectic Derby week to investigate a murder at Churchill Downs. Sleuth Jim Guthrie anticipates his business will take a hit with the Derby festivities starting. But he finds a client in Guatemalan immigrant Carlos Rojas, a Churchill Downs “hotwalker” who cools down horses with quiet strolls following a workout or race. 

At last year’s Derby, someone fatally bludgeoned Carlos’ father, Felipe, who worked as a groom. Since then, the police investigation has turned up nothing, so Jim looks into the homicide on his own. Sadly, he quickly realizes that questioning employees at the Churchill Downs backside is a largely fruitless endeavor. As many are immigrants like Carlos, they stay tight-lipped, understandably wary of recent United States laws. But there is a bevy of suspects that Jim can whittle down. Robbery may have been a motive, as Felipe, who won at poker on the night of his murder, had no money on him. He also got in a fight with a man claiming Felipe cheated at that poker game. 

In the course of his investigation, Jim forms an unexpected alliance with Wyatt Whitlow, who publishes The Late Mail, a tip newsletter. Whitlow’s exposés may help draw out the killer; he’s already incensed people with accusations of cheating via buzzers (devices that electrically shock horses during races) or performance-enhancing drugs. When Jim learns some of those accusations have merit, he connects Felipe’s death with other Churchill Downs crimes, which soon include a second murder. 

Neumayer delivers an often lighthearted mystery. For example, scenes unfold at the backside like a soap opera; there’s the perpetually drunk groom, the horse trainer who scuffles with Whitlow over cheating allegations, and infidelity among married folks. Even Jim has a part in all this, having provoked a wealthy thoroughbred owner whose foolish son the private investigator humiliated (with good reason). The story likewise treats the detective genre playfully. In one of his articles, Whitlow mocks Jim for not donning a fedora or trench coat, and the PI later initiates a pursuit on a bicycle at moderate speed. 

The protagonist is good-natured and sympathetic; he takes Carlos’ case pro bono, despite a pile of bills, and suffers the authorities’ ire as they despise Jim, a former cop–turned–private eye. At the same time, he’s caught up in an effectively understated romance with veterinarian Dr. Freya Hall. She’s one of the cast’s myriad characters, many of whom make viable murder suspects and bolster the ongoing mystery. The author aptly develops each one against a vibrant Churchill Downs backdrop. 

Along with that comes abundant racing lingo, like the titular job, that the author subtly defines for novices without boring readers already familiar with it. Descriptions of Derby races, though disappointingly brief, are animated and memorable: “Right out of the gate, it was a mad scramble with five mounts no more than two lengths apart…. All other sounds were quickly muffled by crowd noise. Manes and tails streamed behind like battle flags as the horses charged into the backstretch.” 

A delightful whodunit with a remarkable hero and sublime Southern setting.