- Series: Steve Cline Mysteries
- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590582926
- ISBN-13: 978-1590582923
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,213,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dead Man's Touch (Steve Cline Mysteries) Paperback – August 30, 2006
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If horses and the care and racing of same occupy a sizable part of your
interest, you'll be glad to hear that Kit Ehrman, who gave us the well-received "At Risk," has produced a second solid, diverting and apparently authentic equine mystery... Ehrman does a fine, spare job... Along the way we get enough details of the hard, smelly, underpaid life in that part of racing called--not without humor--the backside to make up for several screenings of "Seabiscuit." -- Chicago Tribune
"Dick Francis fans rejoice. America now has its own version of stories about the horse-racing world and
the people populating it.... Kit Ehrman has created a driven, principled character and puts him into situations where he must fight for the moral high ground.... Readers who love the excitement of the race will be thrilled with the arrival of this new addition to the field of mystery fiction." -The Denver Post
Kit Ehrman has a unique voice that makes Dead Man's Touch an exciting amateur sleuth tale. The protagonist, rather young in physical years, has experienced so much that he comes across as a mature person, so familiar with death that he realizes it can strike without warning at any time. There is a lot of action in this straightforward mystery, much of it dealing with a protagonist who refuses to stay down after being threatened and battered. Dead Man's Touch is as good as the works of Dick Francis. Harriet Klausner, I Love a Mystery
Still recovering from the physical and psychological bruises he received in his first outing, At Risk (2002), 22-year-old Steve Cline, barn manager of a Maryland horse farm, faces more trauma when his estranged father dies in a car accident in this chilling sequel from Ehrman.... From the labor-intensive work in the oppressive heat of a Maryland summer to the cockroach-infested living quarters of the help, Ehrman creates an authentic and vivid picture of the reality behind the glamour of the races.... with its sensitively drawn characters and enchanting horses with unique personalities, this is sure to be a contender for the winner's circle. Publishers Weekly
Hidden away from the glittering stage of thoroughbred racing, with its flashing silks and gleaming horseflesh, is a place they call ''the backside.'' In her second stable mystery, DEAD MAN'S TOUCH (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95), Kit Ehrman refers to this behind-the-scenes area -- where trainers, grooms, barn managers and stable hands minister around the clock to the needs of their high-strung charges -- as ''a world unto itself.'' Ehrman, who has worked at show barns and breeding farms, strikes a solid claim to this gritty territory with another heels-up thriller that takes up where Dick Francis left off. In the barn.
Steve Cline, the young stable hand who made such a strong and sympathetic hero in ''At Risk,'' searches out the father he never knew, a thoroughbred trainer at a Maryland racetrack, and signs on as a ''hot-walker,'' a lowly exercise worker, when he discovers that someone has been fixing races by tampering with his father's horses. In true Francis tradition, Steve takes plenty of physical punishment as a sleuth. But his undercover role also gives him the inside track on life as it's lived on the backside, a grueling, even squalid existence that pays off in the chance to get close to the magnificent animals that have more character and heart than the two-footed fools who view them as a commodity.
--Marilyn Stasio, NY Times
From the Inside Flap
Steve's life just keeps getting harder: now it's the sudden death of his estranged father in an automobile accident. But at the funeral Steve learns he is really the product of an affair between his mother and horse trainer, Christopher J. Kessler. When Kessler learns that he's a father and Steve is his son, he recruits Steve to work undercover at his training barn to thwart a fix.
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The behind-the-scenes drama at the track is gripping and utterly unsentimental. The novel moves along with the pace of a freight train without ever sacrificing character development or true-to-life details about the horse industry. Some readers compare Ehrman to Dick Francis because of her subject matter but I would urge them instead to judge this book and the rest of her series on its own (excellent) merits.
The plot itself is well paced and not entirely predictable, although I had a strong suspicion of the guilty party around the halfway point. Other than that, there were a few loose ends that I felt weren't adequately tied up, which marred my enjoyment a bit. The main character does demonstrate some character flaws that make me dislike him at times, most notably his sexual indiscretions.
My main issue came about 80% of the way through the novel. It was at this point that any editing of the novel appeared to halt. It's seriously as if no one proofread the last 20% of the novel before sending it to "print." The first three-quarters of the novel is well edited, if not perfectly so. But the last quarter has about two obvious typos a page. This includes minor punctuation errors as well as major errors like incorrect words that a simple read through would catch (although I typically notice typos in books I read, I was not reading this text specifically for typos). The amount of typos I found in this ebook is really inexcusable.
That aside, I enjoyed this novel, the second I have read by Erhman featuring the character Stephen Cline. I might come back for more, but would urge the author to do another read through before publication. The amount of typos in the final section of the book really makes it appear as if a first draft, and that's not impression an author should make in the last pages.
I liked the realism of the setting. The excitement of the individual races coupled with the boredom to be expected in the day to day requirement of equine management made good contrast. Steve seems to have trouble controlling his compulsions-again typical behavior for early twenties. Sure wish the sex could be less descriptive and the love interest more romance than bodily functions. In the backside environment of a race track, I guess you would expect a certain amount of foul language but I would have enjoyed the book much more without it. I must say I shed a tear when he read the letter. Loved the closure or lack thereof depending on your point of view.
Clean up the language and give broad hints at the physical relationships rather than minute descriptions and this book would get a 5 from me.
It's a thriller, with somewhat less horse stuff thrown in than the first, but more about racing. Certainly it's a different story, also catching up with his real dad, but otherwise the general idea is similar to the first book.
A fair enough tale to while away a few hours, as long as you don't spend too much on it. Hours and dollars that is.