Nice Guys Finish Last-Robert Kyle (1955)

robert kyle-nice guys finish last

Interesting story that takes place in the world of harness racing. A farm boy starts out honest then….

In the back country of Maine Brad Pickering is a farm boy who gets a chance to drive a sulky at the Inner Harbor Fair. It’s a carnival complete with games, side shows and even a gypsy fortune teller. Jeff Tremaine owns the concessions with the fortune teller, a two headed calf and  a girlie show called Streets Of Paris. He offers Brad a chance to drive a sully with Prince Eager, a colt who looks like a winner.

Brad finds out that Jeff is a con man who works fairs and leaves town with a lot of cash. He manages to thwart his plans but Jeff and his accomplices make it out of town leaving the colt behind. The town takes over ownership of the horse and Brad is the driver and owns ten percent. His next stop is the big track, Ocean Raceway.

Brad gets there with $7.50 to his name and Prince Eager. While he stables the horse he meets Eliza. Things are looking up. Now all he needs is to get his horse into a race. Things quickly go sour when he pushed Tip Egan around when he proposes a deal. After a tragedy on the track Brad goes after him but agrees they can work together,

He gets a lowly job at Doc Paytner’s stable. He’s Elize’s father. He almost gets fired after pulling a dirty trick on Doc during a race. He runs into Helen Holden. She’s the wife of stable owner Sky Holden. She’s forty years his junior. Brad met them back at the fair.

He’s invited to a party at the Holden’s. Mix booze and a blonde and he and Helen are off to the stables on a rainy night. Their caught and she goes back to the party. It’s not long before Brad hears a gunshot. Some time goes by and now Brad is becoming a successful driver and successful with Helen. Success has a price and Brad finds out fast winning isn’t everything when losing can rake in some bog profits.

I prefer thoroughbreds to trotters but I did enjoy the track atmosphere Kyle presented and the race sequences give a good feel of what it’s like during a race. If you’re looking for a novel that takes place outside the usual big city locale then check this one out.



About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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