Lord of Misrule (Vintage Contemporaries)
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A brilliant novel that captures the dusty, dark, and beautiful world of small-time horse racing, where trainers, jockeys, grooms and grifters vie for what little luck is offered at a run-down West Virginia track .
Tommy Hansel has a plan: run four horses, all better than they look on paper, at long odds at Indian Mound Downs, then grab the purse -- or cash a bet -- and run before anyone’s the wiser. At his side is Maggie Koderer, who finds herself powerfully drawn to the gorgeous, used up animals of the cheap track. She also lands in the cross-hairs of leading trainer Joe Dale Bigg. But as news of Tommy’s plan spreads, from veteran groom Medicine Ed, to loan shark Two-Tie, to Kidstuff the blacksmith, it’s Maggie, not Tommy or the handlers of legendary stakes horse Lord of Misrule, who will find what's valuable in a world where everything has a price.
they at least pay well? she want to know. He looked at her. He sucked in his hollow cheeks. Halfway good, he finally say. Then they was all back in front of the stall again, Deucey making sweet eyes at the girl and the girl making sweet eyes at Little Spinoza. Oooo, let me brush him for you, say the young fool’s woman. I’ll bring up his dapples. I don’t know if he’ll stand for it, honey. He ain’t used to that good treatment. I guess you can try. But you be careful, he could bust your head.
skunk negroes and orphans too. Suitcase said nothing, for as Two-Tie knew, Joe Dale and him was close as wax, almost as close as Suitcase and Two-Tie. Well, let us not speak of cheap tricks at a track where the leading trainer don’t have to know a horse from a hole in the ground—I’ll tell the scumbag myself what I think of him if he touches my niece. Be reasonable, how in hell he’s going to know she’s your niece? You told me not to say nuttin to nobody. Anyhow, like I told you, Joe Dale’s out
out of a churned brown ring in the snow, and at the far end of the hollow stood two long wooden horse barns in need of paint that probably looked more dilapidated than they were. Horses were everywhere she looked, shaggy like big wild ponies in their winter coats. It was a low overhead, high turnover operation. She wondered if Joe Dale’s owners ever came around. Everybody said he was in with the mob but he had owners who certainly weren’t crooks. Probably they were as scared of him as she was.
smelly hair, and Joe Dale, the manager, looking her over, his clean hairy hands spread on plump thighs. His thick legs made his blond silk trousers as tight as a pair of good cigars. His over-ripeness made her dizzy. She set the Coke bottle on the floor. Okay, baby, now I got you here I’m going to tell you something I did which I hope you won’t be mad at me, on account of you have to see I really got a thing for you. Did you know I got a thing for you? Maggie slouched deeper into the couch and
sleeping, said Nebraska, laughing, in the cab. He coulda ruined me for life. End of the line for you, old man. Aaanh, one of youse is enough. In the yellow frame of Little Spinoza’s stall Maggie saw Medicine Ed, stick thin and bent forward from the small of his back like a knife with a bad hinge. The old man’s bad leg dragged its sideways foot and his long deeply grooved face was closed. To look at him, you wouldn’t know anything special had happened tonight at all. He was carrying away the last