Lord Of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon is set in the world of low grade dirt track racing.Broken down horses race at seedy racetracks where the owners & trainers lead a hand to mouth existence & everybody is trying to make a fast buck. The old man, Medicine Ed, has inhabited this world for his whole life & has seen it all. When Tommy Hansel & his girlfriend Maggie arrive with their horses & their plan Ed knows just how things will pan out.
I am a huge fan of English racing & fairly familiar with how things work in America so I didn't find it too difficult to follow through the plot, even though the characters are set tightly within the parameters they inhabit &, consequently, talk its language. One note which may be of use to non American readers is that "red" horses are chestnuts. I would also emphasis that the story is set in the 1970s & the racing industry on both sides of the Atlantic is much more humane & welfare centred now.
I wouldn't describe this as the world's most cheerful read, it's one of those plots where the road to disaster is wide & well trodden & the characters duly follow it. I also didn't really like anybody. It's hard to feel empathy for dislikeable characters, especially those who profess to love their horses & then treat them despicably.
I did enjoy the sustained air of dark menace that created a really strong atmosphere with the sense that the characters were being manipulated by forces beyond their perception & control. Would recommend this if you are in the mood for a bit of creepy chill.