Round, Jeffrey. “After the Horses: A Dan Sharp Mystery”, Dundurn, 2015.
Yuri Malevski, owner of notorious country-and-western gay bar The Saddle and Bridle, is found dead in his in Parkdale mansion, missing-persons investigator Dan Sharp is reluctant about having anything to do with the investigation that is in the hands of the Toronto police. interfere in what he sees as police business. Because Malevski was sleazy in his lifestyle and in his business dealings, Dan thinks that this is an easy case to solve. But then a gay couple, Lionel and Charles, approached him and said that Malevski was killed by the police because of an argument over protection money. Dan reconsiders becoming involved and we are off on another exciting Dan Sharp mystery.
People who had come to Malevski’s bar began disappearing and Dan is ready to become involved in the case. He got a lead that took him to Toronto’s gay community and there he meets some real low-lifers— transients, drug dealers, and con artists. He also discovers that his own life is on the line when he comes close to identifying the murderer.
“After the Horses” is the fourth book in Jeffrey Round’s Dan Sharp series. A lawyer hires Dan to investigate Malevski’s murder even though the police are already on the case. Dan has two issues to deal with here—finding the murderer and learning what his clients’ motivation is in hiring him. Because Dan is gay as was Malevski, he goes into the gay community and its venues for fun. This could wreak havoc with his personal life. Dan seems to have something to say about everything and when given the chance to do so, he orates.
Malevski had questionable dealings, hangers-on, but there were also people who hated him for what he was. This means that there can be many suspects in his murder and provides us with some interesting parts of the novel.
Malevski’s accountant, Lionel, thinks that the murderers might be policeman who wanted the protection money that Malevski decided not to pay. Charles, Lionel’s husband is concerned that Lionel might also be targeted because of his close relationship with his bass and that he knows where the money is and they go to Dan for help.
The police focus on Santiago, a Cuban undocumented immigrant and Malevski’s ex-boyfriend as the prime suspect but no one can find him and the only one who seems to know anything about him is his girlfriend.
Everything that Dan does unleashes more questions and he finds a good many people who did not want to be found. There is a subplot about one of Dan’s friends who is dying of cancer and who wants to know where her missing son is. While this really has nothing to do with the Malevski case, it is included for a reason. Then there is Dan’s son who really cares about his father and Dan returns that feeling to him.
Without saying any more about the murder aspect of the case, I will say that the book keeps the reader in suspense making it quite a page-turner. I have been a fan of Jeffrey Round since his first novel in the Dan Sharp series and I can tell you that he never disappoints. Round has created a wonderful character in Dan Sharp and the fact that he is a recovering alcoholic makes him all the more human. He worries that he may fall off the wagon if his son moves away for college.
I rarely read mysteries and those that I do read are written by authors I have reviewed in the past but even with my lack of feelings for mysteries, I must say that this is well written, intense and tense and it will take you away from your problems as you become engrossed in the story.