Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Caught between the Boston Irish mob and the mob from the old sod—Not a good place to be

Michael Knight and Lex Devlin agree to defend a jockey accused of murdering a fellow jockey during a race at Boston’s Suffolk Downs. Michael’s expertise in the machinations of the horse racing game is expected to serve them well. But a personal attachment to the murdered jockey thrusts Michael and Lex into the midst of a conflict between Boston’s Irish mafia and remnants of the terrorist branch of the Irish Republican Army. Now they are in the crosshairs of both, and the brutality of these combatants knows no bounds.

As Michael and Lex uncover layer after layer of deceptions involved in the seamier side of horse racing, they become more dangerous to the gangs. In action that shuttles between Ireland and Boston, the lives of the two lawyers as well as those close to them are in the gravest danger and the criminals show no mercy in their quest to put an end to this threat. As their investigation hurtles forward, it could end a wonderful law partnership due to the absence of living partners.

Perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline and Alafair Burke

While all of the novels in the Knight and Devlin Thriller Series stand on their own and can be read in any order, the publication sequence is:

Neon Dragon
Black Diamond
Deadly Diamonds
Fatal Odds
High Stakes

280 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2011

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

John F. Dobbyn

24 books28 followers
John F. Dobbyn is an American mystery writer and Professor of Law at the Villanova University School of Law. His Devlin and Knight short story "Trumpeter Swan," published in the February 2004 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Short Story from the Private Eye Writers of America. He lives in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania with his wife Lois.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
50 (27%)
4 stars
70 (39%)
3 stars
49 (27%)
2 stars
9 (5%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Kathi Defranc.
1,183 reviews461 followers
January 29, 2020
Racing At Suffolk Downs Has Never Been Easy, But When Organized Crime From Ireland Moves In, A Jockey's Death Increases Problems

A great legal thriller that entangled the racing community in Revere,Massachusetts with organized crime that extends as far as Ireland. A Boston lawyer, Michael Knight, finds himself in deep trouble as he tries to defend a jockey charged with killing another. The jockey killed was Michael's best friend, so he is determined to find the truth, no matter where it takes him!
Michael finds out that his friend, jockey Danny, found right before the race that his young daughter was kidnapped, to make sure he would lose the race. An adventure begins to help Danny's wife and find the girl, taking him from the backside of the race track to seedy bars in Ireland. Putting himself in chance of serious harm, Michael uses his smarts and several associates to find out all he can, leading to a big set-up that can turn out many ways back at Suffolk, with the horse Danny had been riding, Black Diamond, at the front of their plan!
My first book by this author, but definitely not my last! The story moves quickly with several interesting maneuvers to keep the lawyer relatively safe until he can get the whole story and his client out of jail!! I recommend this story to any who know Suffolk Downs or love a fast-paced legal adventure!!!
Profile Image for Yvann S.
309 reviews16 followers
September 17, 2011
“To one who starts every day with a double jolt of Starbucks’ caffeine-drenched special, the offer of a cup of tea was like offering tofu to a carnivore.”

Michael’s childhood friend Danny is thrown from his horse during a race and dies of his injuries. A rival jockey, accused of pushing Danny off, comes to Michael’s legal practice for criminal defence. Certain that something bigger is afoot, Michael takes the case, but it is his loyalties to Danny’s wife that cause him the most danger in his quest for the truth, which will take him from Boston to the heart of Ireland…

I’m in two minds about Black Diamond. On the one hand, it was a rollicking crime novel, with level after level of baddie until Michael works his way right to the top. Any number of unsavoury characters and doubling-backs of plot avert our hero from justice.

Michael is a pleasant enough character but he’s altogether too flawless (multilingual, brilliant legal mind, rose from nothing so can establish a seamless rapport with both the poorest and the rich, beautiful girlfriend who seems prepared to rescue him from pretty much anything and never see him) and generally a bit stupid – he charges headfirst into all sorts of situations for which you’d think he’s too smart.

However, and this is a big however, the writing is pretty pedestrian. Clichés abounded and the tone was, on the whole, too conversational – it might have worked brilliantly for an audiobook (particularly if the narrator was inclined to a Gaelic lilt), but it doesn’t work in print. And you can’t have an Irish character called Seamus McGuinness living in Killarney Street. It’s just too Irish. Like those huge green faux-velvet leprechaun hats worn by Guinness-chugging rugby fans. Most of the writing is a bit too Irish – I know that the point is to root the novel in a community, but EVERYONE was Irish (apart from a few Hispanic jockeys). Danny, Colleen, Erin, Mr. Devlin, Billy O’Connor… see my point?

“You could cut the profound silence with a cleaver” was the worst offence of the poor writing – the metaphor is somewhat mixed – surely pretty much anything can be cut with a cleaver; the indelicacy of the implement belies the point.

On the other hand, sometimes Dobbyn hit the right spot with a sentiment (see the tea comment at the start):

“I never lie to my secretary, except when it’s necessary to subdue her mothering instincts. This time, it took a bit of method acting. I was sure it was Scully, and no one had called him “harmless” since he left the crib.”

I wanted to give the book 8/10 for its devious mystery and Mafia-style baddies, but it loses 2 points for poor writing.
Profile Image for Mary Chrapliwy.
174 reviews24 followers
September 1, 2011
A smart Boston lawyer gets pulled into the underworld of crime, murder, and horse race fixing in the United States and spanning over the ocean into Ireland.

Michael Knight is a young, smart Boston lawyer who witnesses his friend Danny's fall off a horse named Black Diamond in a race at a race track that is more like a second home to him. Dobbyn skillfully weaves back story into this novel that illuminates why Michael and his friend Danny are involved with the track and how they both succeeded in life despite some pretty bad odds. Unfortunately, Mike's friend Danny dies as a result of the fall and the rider who is accused of his murder comes to Mike's office seeking legal assistance. Michael debates in his heart whether he should represent this person or not. When Michael wades into the waters of his initial investigation, he finds himself immersed in the dangerous world of organized crime - the Irish mob in Boston and a leftover splinter group of the IRA in Ireland.

Dobbyn wrote this novel in the first person so seamlessly that I didn't really notice point of view all that much - I was so drawn into the story. His back story for Michael and Danny is so well done that I barely noticed transitions into the past. I did have to suspend belief quite a bit when Michael ended up going undercover. It seemed highly unrealistic that he would do so, especially when he had a group of skilled investigators that he could have used. A couple times in the third quarter of this novel I took a mental step back and said, "what?!" That is quite literally the only reason this book is a four star, rather than a five star. Dobbyn exhibited enough skill to keep me up past my bedtime reading to the last page.
Profile Image for Susan.
565 reviews7 followers
March 23, 2012
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Black Diamond through Goodreads, and it proved to be a thrilling read that captured my interest from the very beginning. This book is the first that I have read by Dobbyn, and I definitely don't plan on it being the last especially if there are more books featuring Knight and Devlin. The book begins with a horse race that Michael goes to since his childhood buddy is racing and ends with a mysterious death. The lead suspect shows up on Michael's doorstep wanting Michael to defend him against charges of killing Michael's friend. Things take off from there leading Michael into a trip into a darker side of horseracing. Dobbyn does a great job with his character development of Michael and gives the reader enough of Michael's background to explain his relationship to Danny and his protectiveness of Danny's wife and child. The reader also gets to see Michael's relationship with partner Devlin who takes on a paternal/role model role after the death of Michael's foster father. These relationships show Michael's strong sense of family and explain why he would risk his own life for theirs. Overall this was a great read that I would definitely recommend if you enjoya thrilling ride that keeps you guessing.
Profile Image for Shawn Fairweather.
462 reviews4 followers
December 30, 2011
This was a freebie from Goodreads, and an autographed copy ta boot!. I have to say that I was fully engrossed by Mr, Dobbyns work from beginning to end. Nothing challenging here just a smooth roller coaster of a ride for a organized crime/legal thriller if that makes any sense. I had a hard time however dealing with the fact that the main character shared the same name as a David Hasselhoff character for a while, but I got over that eventually. Black Diamond is a thriller based around the underground realm of horse race fixing, however in this case, rogue members of the left over IRA are behind the events that leave a jockey dead, another in jail accused of his murder, and the kidnapping and extortion of the fallen jockeys little girl. Dobbyn could have taken the route of becoming too detailed in his work on many occassions especially when it came to Ireland, however as not to distract the reader and ruin the momentum that he continuously builds, he maintains speed and moves the story along fluidly. From beginning to end the story evolves and draws you in even more. Good times.
Profile Image for Pascal Marco.
Author 2 books24 followers
January 25, 2014
Black diamond is my first exposure to the great writing if john dobbyn. I think what I liked most about the story is how he seamlessly weaved the two locations of Boston and Ireland as he told his tale of a jockey who is killed while riding his mount right before the finish line...quite an interesting concept I must say...so was it murder? Not having any knowledge of horse racing whatsoever, I especially liked dobbyn's ability to make me feel and understand the locale and characters of a racetrack without ever having set foot on or near one.
Yet when he writes about Ireland, a place I know well, he captured an essence I hadn't heretofore seen or experienced, making me feel like I was there for the first time. Nice job.
I've become a fan and look forward to reading the other books in the Devlin/knight series.
Profile Image for PopcornReads - MkNoah.
938 reviews98 followers
October 5, 2011
When the publisher made available an advanced readers copy of Black Diamond by John F. Dobbyn, I jumped on it. I used to be a fan of horse-racing mysteries but I hadn’t read anything like that in a long time so it seemed like it was meant to be. After reading Black Diamond, I learned it’s Book #3 in this mystery series; however, it makes a great stand-alone novel. If you like a good mystery like I do, you’ll be pleased with this one. Read the rest of my review at this shortlink: http://popcornreads.com/?p=1922.
3 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2013
Unbelievable plot. Wooden characters. Absolutely silly, waste of time. The law sections--the main character is a Boston attorney--are foolish and could not happen. The "thriller" portions are so unrealistic in concept as to become laughable. When you don't care about the fate of a child, you know the novel is missing an awful lot.
Profile Image for Allie Bates.
Author 3 books65 followers
February 21, 2013
Colorful, twisty, racey mystery weaving from the horsey world of Suffolk Down through Boston to Ireland and back. If the tale does not take us through the ins and outs of a courtroom, it still echoes with Dobbyn's authoritative knowledge of horse racing and law, or more specifically, law in Boston. The whole review is here.
Profile Image for Greg.
52 reviews
January 12, 2012
Won this from the Firstreads Givaways.

Great book. This was a fun murder mystery that allowed the reader enough information to make educated guesses about the "who-dun-it" and wrapped up the story nicely. I will be seeking other titles from this author. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Shannon.
233 reviews8 followers
November 2, 2011
Really great book....kept me on the edge of my set quite a bit..I would recommend this book to all my friends and faimly that love to read as much as I do
Profile Image for Deborah aka Reading Mom.
329 reviews33 followers
July 26, 2012
This is the 3rd of a very nice legal series. The first is Neon Dragon, the second is Frame-Up. I would give 5 stars to them all, except for the definite need for editing.
Profile Image for Ben.
1,005 reviews22 followers
January 7, 2013
A taut Irish thriller with a couple too many stock Irish mobster characters to keep straight.
Profile Image for Kirk.
235 reviews2 followers
April 5, 2016
I enjoyed the legal issues and horseracing angle, but the plot has too many holes for my liking.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.