Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review - Dark Horse (JS)

Dark Horse by JR Rain
Review by Jacqui Slaney
If you have read my previous reviews, you will know the name JR Rain from the Samantha Moon novels that I have read. They are short enjoyable books with a great central character, I had known that the writer had written many other books, but never moved beyond the Moon books, I had so many other things to read, that there never seemed to be an opportunity. Then I saw an offer of three books in one, each one the first in each of his different series and thought why not give it a go.
This is the description:
When high school student Derrick Booker, the only black student at a posh Orange County high school, is accused of killing his white girlfriend, ex-college football hero and detective Jim Knighthorse is hired to dig a little deeper into the murder. It does not take long for Knighthorse to realize that not all is as it seems at tranquil Huntington High, from a band director who preys on the innocent to a vice-principal with a secret agenda of her own. Not to mention someone has hired a professional killer to keep Knighthorse permanently off the case.
As the investigation continues, Knighthorse's personal life is shattered by the discovery of new evidence relating to his mother's unsolved murder, a murder dating back twenty years. Reeling from the discovery, a determined Jim Knighthorse sets out to bring two killers to justice

When I first started the book, I was slightly unsure as to whether I would actually like it. The main character Jim Knighthorse tells the story, and he did not seem like my cup of tea at the start. He talks a lot about his looks and how he wants to play professional football (American), a career choice that was stopped when he was younger due to a badly broken leg. However, within a page and a bit, I realised that he was funny and clever and a character that the reader can relate to.
Jim has been forced by injury to follow in his fathers footsteps despite his dislike of him to become a private detective. His father runs a large agency, whilst Jim works by himself just with the assistance of a homicide detective now and then, but has started to make a name for himself, hence why he is given the task of trying to prove the innocence of a student accused of murder. There are potential suspects galore when the investigation starts, and he soon knows he is on the right track when a hired gun, takes a pot shot at his ear, and threats are made against himself and his girlfriend. The final solution is a surprise and I must admit that I did not see it coming to close to the end of the story, so that made the whole thing very pleasing, as it is always good to be kept guessing by a murder mystery.
Jim in the course of his investigation shows that he will do what he thinks is right, and will dispense rough justice to people. One of the sub plots in the story is quite distressing and you are wholly on Jim’s side when he does what he does.
There are not many side characters in the story, but they are developed enough to give depth to the tale, the most interesting of whom is Jack, the person Jim speaks to in a burger bar. I do not want to give too much away about him, as I think it would spoil the book, just let me say it is a different idea to have him in the book. I might have liked to see some more development of the side characters like his friend Sanchez, but this is only book one, so that might come later on in the series.
This is not a very long story, the chapters are quite short which is a good trick, as it makes the reader say to them selves, well I will just read one more and then I will put the book down, and it makes you wish your journey home were longer. There are not long descriptive paragraphs to slow the plot down and the writing is entertaining and fast paced, and there are a few sub plots, not least of which is the murder of Jim’s mother when he was a child.
Therefore, despite a doubtful start, the book definitely got better, and I will definitely be looking to read more of this character.
7 out of 10