Reviews

Review: Jate’s Boy

Author Peter P. Sellers grew up in Western New York and became obsessed with horses when his friend the librarian suggested he read Walter Farley’s ‘Black Stallion’. After that introduction much of Peter’s life has been devoted to horses – ‘The entire Michael Butler Saga (four books) is set in the world of harness horse racing – and reading his extended biography runs form age twelve to the present with his obsession with horses – ownership, buying, selling, and raising and training horses – he was sent to military school in Syracuse for his final year of high school (apparently he was a disruptive student), after which he was left at the harness racing track in Vernon, New York to learn the ropes of the job. His interests turned to film, photography, editing, and story telling and enjoyed a fascinating, successful, eye-opening forty-year career in film and television production. In the 1980s he began writing as well as gathering an interest in polo and racing harness horses in Florida. All of this experience has produced an author who writes authentically about the world of horses – and so we come to his JATE’S BOY, which is the fourth installment in his Michael Butler Saga. As Peter sums it up, ‘I have a fairly clear sense of my characters’ code of conduct based on my own life’s experiences. I have a rule-of-thumb building characters: each major character is morally ambiguous when push comes to shove. Everyone makes their own moral decisions to fit a sticky situation.’

Peter opens his novel with a hard-hitting rime scene that sets a strong tone for the novel ahead – ‘Blaster was hyperventilating but that was to be expected after a face-to-face kill. He focused on controlling his breathing as he pulled back out onto the street in front of Joey Grasso’s building. He knew the FBI stakeout was a car about a block down to his right, so he turned the van left. He wasn’t going to the bus terminal parking lot to ditch the van immediately; he wanted to do a few things first. He knew the guy buffing the floor outside Grasso’s apartment had gotten a good look at him, so he wanted to change his appearance as quickly as he could. He wanted to wash his hands as soon as possible to rid himself of the cordite from firing the Glock, and he wanted to ditch the gun and exterminator uniform he had been wearing… He checked his pulse, his heart rate was very close to normal. The time-honored procedures for the after-hit exit were engrained in him. One: it’s over and done—don’t think about it for a second. Two: spend as much time re-establishing your composure as you need while exiting the location. Three: alter your appearance as dramatically as possible as soon as possible. Four: begin normal activities as you follow your exit plan. Five: know exactly what you plan to do with the weapon afterward… and do it. Lastly, begin your mental exercises to flush the experience out of your mind. Think positive thoughts about what joys and experiences lie ahead.’

And it is that intensity of prose that carries this book so well. But back to the harness racing aspect – the synopsis tells us what is in store: ‘ The biggest star in harness horse racing in America is Sophia Butler. She lives in Illinois. Her husband Michael is serving five years for conspiracy and obstruction of justice in New York State because he wouldn’t testify against friends at his trial. Sophia left New York, swearing never to return because of the treatment of her husband. The Governor of New York wants to increase revenue at New York State harness racing tracks by adding add slot machines at the racetracks. He needs a star to help promote the idea and draw crowds. Michael Butler is offered a deal: get your wife to come to Yonkers Raceway in New York and race and he will be released from prison. But, no one has asked Sophia. Does she still love her husband? Sophia’s family, the notorious mobsters, The Tanzini Brothers, want to use Sophia’s popularity to build a racing complex in Iowa. They’ll use whatever means needed to control her. Michael Butler has only his, hopefully, unbreakable bond of love with his wife to offer. The Tanzinis have the mid-west’s most feared hitman. An exciting fast paced story of love, greed, betrayal, and violence with the precious bond of true love at stake.’

Peter makes us feel the tension, smell the smells, feel the excitement and the crises of his story very well indeed. Readers who start with this novel will likely turn to the first three installment in this well written saga. Grady Harp, December 17, San Francisco Review of Books

Review: Jate’s Boy

JATE’S BOY opens with a bang – literally – with a character winding down after a “face-to-face kill.” It continues with its fast plot for the remainder of the novel, introducing a large cast of intriguing characters. It is far too easy for a mob thriller to become a paint by numbers collection of stereotypes. Author Peter P. Sellers, however, has gathered a quirky group of vivid characters, including the put-upon Michael Butler, his horse racing champion love Sophia, and the seductress-for-hire Kim Powers. It is particularly impressive that the female characters feel so fully fleshed out and complex.

One of the most exciting components of a book like JATE’S BOY is the surprising machinations of scheming characters – leaving the reader guessing as to who is playing who, and why. This novel will keep anyone guessing about loyalties and plots until the very end, and the finale offers a satisfying conclusion. The love and greed that drive many of the characters are believable and constantly shifting, and the reactions of the characters to one another rarely hits a false note. The only issue is that the plot occasionally becomes too crowded, making it challenging to keep all of the relevant characters straight.

Short chapters jump around to different locations and character perspectives, with helpful labels introducing each shift. The author has created a terrific sense of place, with settings ranging from sketchy city streets, to rural farmhouses, to prison cells. The entire story is set against a theme of competitive harness racing, and readers can expect a deep-dive into the workings of this unique world. While certain chapters dedicated to racing can become tiresome and present more detail than is necessary, overall the author’s passion for the topic shines through and sets this novel apart from run of the mill thrillers.

Author Peter P. Sellers has created a terrific sense of place in JATE’S BOY, while also delivering  snappy dialogue and thrilling intrigue. Reviewed by Jennifer Dixon for IndieReader

Review: Jate’s Boy

Jate’s Boy, the fourth book in the Michael Butler Saga by Peter P. Sellers is a thrilling addition to the storied history of crime novels centered around horse racing.

Beautiful Sophia Butler is a harness racing superstar. Wherever she races, the fans follow. The governor of New York wants to increase revenues at the track by adding slot machines and needs Sophia to bring in the crowds. Sophia’s husband, Michael, who’s doing a five-year stint in a correctional facility, is offered early parole if he convinces his wife to race in New York state.

However, that’s no easy task since Sophia hates the state for sending her husband up river – and she’s part of Chicago’s notorious Tanzini crime family who wants to use her to promote a racing track of their own in Iowa. There’s a lot riding on Sophia’s cooperation, but no one’s bothered to ask her what she wants…

Jate’s Boy is a riveting crime thriller, which Sellers delivers like he possesses coveted insider knowledge about the world of harness racing. With mobsters, gambling, and romance in between, Jate’s Boy will most certainly appeal to fans of Dick Francis, though Sellers has a unique voice of his own.

Telling a story from different points of view can impede momentum and there’s a bit of that here, but once the story gets rolling it doesn’t stop, and concludes with a particularly fantastic finish. A page-turning thriller, Jate’s Boy delivers as a standalone, but will definitely have readers looking to pick up other books in the Saga. — Reviewed by Marta Cheng for Self-Publishing Review

Review: Jate’s Boy

Jate’s Boy is the fourth book in the Michael Butler Saga by Peter P. Sellers, a great read with a sophisticated plot and a strong conflict. It’s an enthralling story of intrigue, manipulation, and conspiracy. Sophia Butler is the American hotshot in horse harnessing, an icon in the industry. While her husband is serving five years for conspiracy, there are powerful men who want to use her for their own gain. The Governor sees her as the only one who can promote the New York State harness racing tracks. So, they offer a deal to her husband in jail to get Sophia to race at the Yonkers Raceway in New York in exchange for his freedom. On another front, her family of mobsters wants to use her fame to build a racing track in Iowa. Can Sophia accept the deal or will she allow herself to be manipulated?

Peter P. Sellers has the unusual ability to tell a riveting story, something that a good author must have. Sellers is, first and foremost, a great storyteller and he knows how to keep his audience hooked and focused on every word – from the very first page to the satisfying, cliffhanger ending. I marveled at both the pace and the intricacies of the plot, but character development was one of the elements that had me rooting for this author. Jate’s Boy is one of those rare books that kept me reading nonstop, completely entertained and satisfied. Great writing, punctuated by exciting and well-crafted dialogues; it is one of those books you finish without noticing when you even started it. — Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

Review: Jate’s Boy

“Butler, you’re under arrest for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. You need to come with us now.”

Author Peter P. Sellers grew up in Western New York and became obsessed with horses when his friend the librarian suggested he read Walter Farley’s ‘Black Stallion’. After that introduction much of Peter’s life has been devoted to horses – ‘The entire Michael Butler Saga (four books) is set in the world of harness horse racing – and reading his extended biography runs form age twelve to the present with his obsession with horses – ownership, buying, selling, and raising and training horses – he was sent to military school in Syracuse for his final year of high school (apparently he was a disruptive student), after which he was left at the harness racing track in Vernon, New York to learn the ropes of the job. His interests turned to film, photography, editing, and story telling and enjoyed a fascinating, successful, eye-opening forty-year career in film and television production. In the 1980s he began writing as well as gathering an interest in polo and racing harness horses in Florida. All of this experience has produced an author who writes authentically about the world of horses – and so we come to his JATE’S BOY, which is the fourth installment in his Michael Butler Saga. As Peter sums it up, ‘I have a fairly clear sense of my characters’ code of conduct based on my own life’s experiences. I have a rule-of-thumb building characters: each major character is morally ambiguous when push comes to shove. Everyone makes their own moral decisions to fit a sticky situation.’

Peter opens his novel with a hard-hitting rime scene that sets a strong tone for the novel ahead – ‘Blaster was hyperventilating but that was to be expected after a face-to-face kill. He focused on controlling his breathing as he pulled back out onto the street in front of Joey Grasso’s building. He knew the FBI stakeout was a car about a block down to his right, so he turned the van left. He wasn’t going to the bus terminal parking lot to ditch the van immediately; he wanted to do a few things first. He knew the guy buffing the floor outside Grasso’s apartment had gotten a good look at him, so he wanted to change his appearance as quickly as he could. He wanted to wash his hands as soon as possible to rid himself of the cordite from firing the Glock, and he wanted to ditch the gun and exterminator uniform he had been wearing… He checked his pulse, his heart rate was very close to normal. The time-honored procedures for the after-hit exit were engrained in him. One: it’s over and done—don’t think about it for a second. Two: spend as much time re-establishing your composure as you need while exiting the location. Three: alter your appearance as dramatically as possible as soon as possible. Four: begin normal activities as you follow your exit plan. Five: know exactly what you plan to do with the weapon afterward… and do it. Lastly, begin your mental exercises to flush the experience out of your mind. Think positive thoughts about what joys and experiences lie ahead.’

And it is that intensity of prose that carries this book so well. But back to the harness racing aspect – the synopsis tells us what is in store: ‘ The biggest star in harness horse racing in America is Sophia Butler. She lives in Illinois. Her husband Michael is serving five years for conspiracy and obstruction of justice in New York State because he wouldn’t testify against friends at his trial. Sophia left New York, swearing never to return because of the treatment of her husband. The Governor of New York wants to increase revenue at New York State harness racing tracks by adding add slot machines at the racetracks. He needs a star to help promote the idea and draw crowds. Michael Butler is offered a deal: get your wife to come to Yonkers Raceway in New York and race and he will be released from prison. But, no one has asked Sophia. Does she still love her husband? Sophia’s family, the notorious mobsters, The Tanzini Brothers, want to use Sophia’s popularity to build a racing complex in Iowa. They’ll use whatever means needed to control her. Michael Butler has only his, hopefully, unbreakable bond of love with his wife to offer. The Tanzinis have the mid-west’s most feared hitman. An exciting fast paced story of love, greed, betrayal, and violence with the precious bond of true love at stake.’

Peter makes us feel the tension, smell the smells, feel the excitement and the crises of his story very well indeed. Readers who start with this novel will likely turn to the first three installment in this well written saga. — Reviewed by Grady from Goodreads

Review: Jate’s Boy

I hung on every word as I read this book. Centered around horse racing and a crime ring family, the more I read the more I craved to read. Peter P. Sellers kept me guessing throughout Jate’s Boy as to who would win the Sophia’s favor, and who would be eliminated because they knew too much. As much as the mobsters tried to keep everything close there were still too many loose ends.

There are dirty deeds working within the harness horse racing community. In the fourth book of the Michael Butler Saga, Michael is released on parole after making a deal to increase revenue for the Yonkers through his wife. In the mean time, Sophia’s mobster family is using her to make their own illegal deals in the Iowa Downs. Sophia is unknowingly a pawn within many plays. Michael and Sophia as a couple is speculation throughout the novel. I anticipated their reaction when they are finally face to face.— Reviewed by Pegboard from Goodreads

Review: Jate’s Boy

Jate’s Boy is a complex story told in an amazing manner. It is the story of two extraordinary people in love who are nevertheless separated due to unavoidable circumstances and the plotting of other people. Things get worse when other people intrude in their private spaces and use them for their own needs and greed. Sophia’s popularity acts as a curse against her as she unwittingly gets tied to her dark family. The book has many grey and dark elements but there are lots of positive things too. Hope is always within the horizon even in most detestable of circumstances. The focus of the author is more on action than on words. I liked it when Michael finds himself in a soup with wanting to work with Kim for the high money on the book and Sophia wanting him to have nothing with her. The book is written in the theme of a westerner and there are lots of information on horse breeding and horse racing.— Reviewed by Payal Sinha from Goodreads

Review: Jate’s Boy

The book is the story of Michael Butler who is serving in prison in NY statue and has a famous wife Sophia, who is the biggest start in harness horse racing action in America. Michael is faced with the challenge, wherein he is offered a deal to ask his wife to come to Yonkers Raceway in NY, so her star popularity can be misused and as a result Michael will be released from prison.

The plot is good based on theme of love with other elements surrounding it deception, violence, action, greed. The characters develop as the book unfolds and it gabs the attention with all drama and events. This is the first book I have read in series and I did not feel anything I really missed.— Reviewed by Archie from Goodreads