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Danger escalates as Michael Knight and Lex Devlin enter into the defense of a Puerto Rican jockey charged with felony murder as a result of a fixed race at Boston’s Suffolk Downs.

As their investigation exposes the jockey’s role, they become embroiled in a conflict between two Puerto Rican crime gangs. One of these gangs is aligned for the first time with Boston’s Italian Mafia in tapping into almost limitless profits from the illicit trade of exotic and endangered species of wild animals captured in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and smuggled through the shoreline of the Florida Keys.

Working to free their client and to prevent the brutal abuse of these vulnerable animals, Michael and Lex find themselves squarely in the crossfire of rival organized crime gangs from the barrio of Jamaica Plain, Boston, to the gang-dominated streets of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  

354 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 2, 2016

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About the author

John F. Dobbyn

29 books29 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.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
7 reviews
November 11, 2016
This book will grab you from the first page and not let you go. It is hard to put down. When it does come to an end, the premise of the story will stick with you. You will be inspired to tell others about what has become one of the most profitable crimes for organized crime syndicates all over the world, that is the poaching of endangered wild species, the illegal wild animal trade. The mystery story is fictional and includes all the characters we have learned to love through Dobbyn's previous books, but the crime it revolves around is serious business to the tune of profits exceeding 20 billion dollars annually worldwide. It is decimating species in the Brazilian rainforest and Africa. Most people have never even heard about it or if you are like me, you are familiar with it, but had no idea the extent of the devastation to our wildlife and what this will do to the overall ecology of species on our planet.
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,164 reviews94 followers
January 13, 2020
Michael Knight is a successful, young, Boston lawyer, the younger partner in Devlin & Knight. Michael doesn't always play it safe, and that adds to the stress of senior partner Lex Devlin, secretary Julie, and fiancée Terri.

Michael Knight looks like a nice Boston Irish boy, but his mother is Puerto Rican, and he speaks Spanish, enjoys Puerto Rican cuisine, and, most importantly for this story, has two cousins, brothers Victor and Roberto Mendoza, who are now jockeys at Boston's thoroughbred racing track, Suffolk Downs.

Michael is at the track, watching a race in which Victor and Roberto are both racing, when something goes horribly wrong. Victor's horse moves sideways into Roberto's, a collision in which Roberto's horse goes down, and Roberto is critically injured. By the next morning, Roberto is dead, and the DA wants to charge Victor with being involved in fixing the race, and with felony murder, for the death of his brother.

Knight starts out looking for his cousin, who has seemingly gone into hiding, and trying to figure out how he could have become involved in a race-fixing scheme, something that would have outraged both brothers. Along the way, he discovers the real scheme is much bigger, much nastier, and much more dangerous. It takes Knight back to his own blessedly brief involvement in a local Puerto Rican gang as a teenager, to his Puerto Rican roots, and into some of the darker corners of Boston's organized crime scene. A form of smuggling he hadn't even known existed play a key role, and the question of who can be trusted and who can't becomes complicated and alarming.

One compelling aspect of this book for me is that the city of Boston really is a character here, and it's the Boston I know. Dobbyn knows the streets, the places, the neighborhoods and cultures. Not every detail is true to Boston today, but the bits that aren't true now were true in the very recent past. Dobbyn is from here, and you can tell.

The bonus extra is that the narrator, Bill Nevitt has his Boston accents (yes, multiple accents, from different neighborhoods, local cultures, and education levels) as close to perfect as I've heard in audiobooks. I suppose it's no surprise for anyone from an area with a distinctive general accent that isn't American standard that performers rarely get it truly right, or to anyone anywhere that local variations obvious to anyone from the area are always glossed over. I have no idea where Nevitt is from, so I'm just going with, this is a serious professional who cares about getting things right. It added to the pleasure of listening to this audiobook.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
Profile Image for Marna.
58 reviews1 follower
July 29, 2017
When I finished this book the first time, I had to write to the author and tell him how grateful I was that he'd written it.... the whole series, in fact. Michael McKnight is a hero you just love to love. He's almost archetypal in his hard-wired goodness, his courage and his honesty. Very refreshing, honestly. Like the heroes of old, he proves himself when the going gets tough--nail-bitingly so. A true page-turner, this book (and the series) has oft kept me up long past my bedtime.

I also love being educated while I read fiction. James Rollins, for instance, is one from whom I learn a lot. Fatal Odds by John Dobbyns reveals the horror of illegal animal smuggling, from the point of view of the natives who are forced to capture their brothers and sisters of the forest, as well as the crime groups who benefit from their theft and sale. We'd rather not know--but this book illustrates so clearly how ignorance can be so deadly.

Unfolding at a terrific pace, this book kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know--no, needing to know--what happens next? I think my favorite quality of John F. Dobbyn's writing style is the fluidity of the narrative, the absolute realism of the dialogue, and the heart that flows through every word. He uses words like brush strokes to evoke images so real, every chapter unfolds like a blockbuster movie. Skating on the edge of poetry, his writing is so easy--there's no skips, having to re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the writer was trying to say. Clear, brilliant and intelligent, Dobbyn's writing will have you anxiously waiting for the next adventure of Michael McKnight and his comrades. He's a true stand-out in the myriad writers who embrace the Kindle platform--the 3rd reading of this book was just as juicy and delicious as the first.

Thank you, John Dobbyn!!
December 28, 2018
John F. Dobbyn is in my mind, a rock star. The veritable Elvis Presley of mystery and legal thrillers. Just as I sometimes listen all day enraptured to Elvis, I have been known to be totally immersed in and engrossed by one of John’s Devlin and Knight thriller series.

But it wasn’t until I met John during the taping of a television interview about my second novel, that I had the unexpected delightful chance to tell him so. During a commercial break, he gave a two-thumbs-up. Fairly swooning, I told him that I had just inhaled the internationally-acclaimed author’s third novel, "Black Diamond", in which Knight and Devlin, while defending a jockey accused of murder, deal with the seamier side of horse racing and are forced to confront the Boston Irish Mafia and a terrorist faction of the Irish Republican Army. Like my financial advisor, I was, with just cause, awe-struck to actually meet its author.

Of course, I stayed to watch John’s subsequent taping in which he explained that the illegal trade of exotic wild animals was, is second in the United States in profitability only to illegal drug sales and third internationally with annual profits exceeding $20 billion. We chatted about this (I had no idea you could buy wild animals over the Internet) and his novel afterward, as well as the instinctual call to write that must always be answered. But, unfortunately, while intrigued by the premise of the firth in his suspenseful series, I did not have the chance to read "Fatal Odds" until this past Christmas when John graced me with an inscribed hard copy. True to form, I consumed it in two days.

Now Michael Knight, the much younger partner of Devlin and Knight, is half Puerto Rican and half Irish. A mottled lineage that somehow lands him in precariously dangerous situations as he attempts to clear the name of his clients. In Fatal Odds, it is his cousin Vincent who is accused of murdering his brother, Roberto, during a fixed horse race at Suffolk Downs. The race, after which Vincent disappears, had been fixed by Fat (really fat!) Tony Cannucci. Simple enough. It is Michael’s intent to find his cousin and clear him of the homicide. But, in doing so, he soon discovers that while Fat Tony would reap enormous betting profits, he has his pudgy fingers in a much more lucrative venture: the illegal smuggling and selling of exotic wild animals captured in the dense Amazon rain forest of Brazil.

Alternating sections and chapters between Boston, Brazil, and Puerto Rico, John weaves an amazingly tense and riveting tale of complex criminal machinations. Invoking real-life Puerto Rican gang rivalries ("insectos" versus "Nyetas"), as well as the Mafia, he entwines vast knowledge not only of thoroughbred racing but of the illegal wild animal trade, guiding the instantly absorbed reader into and around the sub-strata world of deceit, deception, and betrayal. And while enmeshing his main protagonist in the seemingly most unlikely situations, the author interjects, in a free-flowing, easy to read style, humor, wit, and, yes, romance.

Needless to say, while the Devlin and Knight series is, in several ways, more suited for male readers seeking hard-core, adventurous page-turners, I really relish John’s literary thrillers, especially this last one. John writes with a depth of knowledge, great acuity, and sensitivity that readily appeals to any adult audience – female as well as male – who seek to be elucidated and educated while also being entertained.

Enjoy the read!
3,169 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2018
( Format : Audiobook )
"Nobody buys a dead monkey."
A jockey dies when his brother's horse swerves in front of his own during a race. The brother goes on to win but is then disqualified for causing the accident. But was it really an accident or had the race been fixed? The police want to arrest the jockey for causing the fatality during a felony. The brothers, originally from Puerto Rico, had been very close and were Knight's cousins, The defense lawyer believes that something is very wrong and sets out to find Victor before the police can bring him in He seeks help from an old gang leader he'd known when he had been young and vulnerable. But when this man is also killed, Knight has to find out why.

Fatal odds is an involving and complex thriller, mostly set in the gang lands of Boston but also in Puerto Rico. Lots of bravado, deaths and confrontation as well as plentiful praise for the food which is eaten. This reader had mistakenly expected more legal, in court action but the story, although calling on the powers of the deputy public prosecutor a couple of times, manages to evade almost any mention of the courts. Some very interesting, and concerning, smuggling statistics related and repeated in a brief afterwards comment by the author: it is almost reading the book for these interesting facts alone.

The story was mostly well written although there were occasional contradictions in the text, such as rushing to prevent a guard from escaping from a prison cage despite the door having already been closed. These are all very minor but the book would be better without them. And despite the 'audience's feel that they impart to the characters, the preponderance of Spanish names and sentences - conversation and foodstuffs - for this reader interrupted any story flow that had been generated. The feel good ending could also have been omitted: it served only as a distraction to the impact of the story overall.I

Bill Nevitt, who narrates, was impressive in his unhesitating reading of the Spanish names and dialogue. His voice is pleasant, well articulated and with good intonation. The delivery is rather noir in quality, slightly staccato and, for this reader, fractionally too slow. Increasing the playback seed to 1.25 easily resolved that, however. His voicing of various protagonists was good, each being due to actively individual.

My thanks to the rights holder of Fatal Odds who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. The story certainly highlighted a most unpleasant yet very profitable aspect of international smuggling which is, if not unknown, at least underestimated in most people's awareness. The fact that it is one of the top monetary returns but goes almost unchallenged is scandalous and this book does a good job in helping to increase public pressure to put an end to this cruel and disastrous trafficking.
Profile Image for Beverly Laude.
1,752 reviews23 followers
January 18, 2020

Michael Knight is a half Puerto Rican lawyer who seems to have a propensity for getting involved in dangerous situations. His two cousins, Victor and Roberto, are like brothers to Michael. When Roberto is killed during a race, the authorities charge Victor with his murder.

This book started out being a mystery involving horse racing, then quickly switched to the jungles of Brazil. At first, I was confused as to what was going on. As the book progressed, these seemingly unrelated things began to come together in an intricate scheme involving both Italian and Puerto Rican gangs.

The author obviously did a lot of research into the relatively unknown trade in exotic and endangered animals. I liked the way that he told much of this part of the book from the perspective of natives in Brazil. The book had plenty of twists and turns and Michael gets himself into some precarious situations. In fact, I would categorize Michael as more of a Private Investigator than a lawyer since there is very little in the book that involved being a lawyer. The story was very involved and there were a lot of different characters to keep track of along the way. The author did a pretty decent job of weaving all of these threads together in an entertaining way.

The narrator, Bill Nevitt, did his usual wonderful job in his performance. My only complaint would be that some of his accents didn't really seem to fit the nationality they were meant to portray. I couldn't really tell the difference between the Puerto Rican and Italian at times.

All in all, this was an entertaining thriller with enough twists to keep the listener engaged. I was given the chance to listen to the audiobook version of this book by the narrator and chose to review it.

Profile Image for Julie Howard.
Author 2 books15 followers
August 21, 2019
I enjoyed this book mainly because it was such a different idea for a plot. It was broken up into parts and I did wonder what the Amazon rain forest had to do with horse racing as it seemed like we had stepped back in time but it all came together nicely to make a great story. I know the story is only a work of fiction but it certainly opened my eyes as to what goes on in the world, it's a scary place.
When Michael sees his cousin crash into his brother while racing he had no idea that it would send him on a roller coasters ride where the watches fired guns at you. When his cousin is accused of fixing the race and killing his brother Michael turns to a gang boss in order to find out who would want or need to fix a race, but caught between two rival gangs it soon becomes apparent that race fixing is just the tip of the ice burge. Nobody is safe as drug dealers and animal traffickers come together in an explosive story of greed,betrayal and revenge.
The narrator does an excellent job with all the different accents and bringing the characters to life.
Profile Image for Joni Janice Mielke.
466 reviews8 followers
March 15, 2020
You'd be forgiven for thinking that this book is only about horse racing/race-fixing if you judged it by the first couple of chapters alone. In fact, it's about a lot more. Aside from the human/relational aspect, which is fairly portrayed yet not overdone, Fatal Odds stands out from other books of its genre by focussing a great deal of attention on illegal animal trafficking. I liked this aspect of the book, as it served as a counterbalance to the quality of the writing, which, in my opinion, was not good. The narration, on the other hand, was excellent, showcasing Bill Nevitt's talents at their best. This is a challenging novel, as it demands a variation of accents (sometimes more than one accent for a single character) and Bill, pleasingly, meets these challenges head on with success that belies all the hard work he has put into this. This was a pleasant listening experience, over all, and I look forward to hearing more from Bill as this series continues.
Profile Image for Anne Rightler.
1,699 reviews13 followers
August 23, 2019
Having listened to Fatal Odds and finding out it is a fifth in a series, I realize I have a lot of catching up to do. I loved this thriller. Legal thrillers are one of my favorite genres to read and this one does not disappoint. Lots of edge-of-the-seat, fast-paced action, interesting and disconcerting information regarding race-fixing and drug and exotic animal trafficking help to keep interest high. A hero who hangs in there despite danger and life-threatening situations. I am so looking forward to reading more of the Knight and Devlin duo. I listened to a complimentary copy of the audiobook and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own. Bill Nevitt did a great job narrating the story which made for an entertaining listening experience.
Profile Image for Rabid Reader.
959 reviews13 followers
September 8, 2019
This story is a thrilling story that will pull at any animal lovers heart and make you angry at the disregard of authorities where poaching and illegal animal trade is concerned. This story grabs you from the first page and keeps you captive until the last. The narrator of the audiobook really brought the book to life, making you experience all the emotions and suspense in the story. From organized crime, gang warfare, poaching of endangers species, drugs, fixing of horse racing, murder, intrigue and deception; this story combines the authors vast knowledge of thoroughbred racing with that of the illegal wild animal trade to form a nail-biting, fast paced thriller that will keep you engrossed, and educate you at the same time.
Profile Image for Claudia.
2,766 reviews34 followers
September 22, 2019
A fatal accident in a horse's race is the starting point of a story that will lead you to a very unexpected plot. I really enjoyed the complexities of it, the play of the different loyalties going on here, and the highlighting of the horrors of the traffic of exotic animals.

I must say I was kind of surprised when the Amazon rain forest came upfront and wasn't really sure how this subplot would relate with the main one, and yet... it did, in spades.

Well-written, solid plot and great suspense, this is a recommended one!

And Bill Nevitt, as always does a truly great job. This is particularly noticeable when he gives voice to the considerable amount of Spanish that is woven into the story. As a native Spanish speaker, I can only applaud his accuracy. Excellent job!
Profile Image for Rosemary Hughes.
2,899 reviews15 followers
August 22, 2019
This review is submitted after listening to the audiobook for this Title.

Thankfully, in fiction at least, there are a handful of men prepared to stand against the odds, and do something about corruption and evil.
A story that puts your teeth on edge, but, also soothes the soul.
It reminds me a lot of "Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch's series".
I loved the narrator's grasp of languages, which is often in a book like this, but unless you know the language, it's an area a reader skips.
With that narrator reading the different language portions, it gives you a clearer picture of the scenes being portrayed.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
959 reviews16 followers
August 22, 2019

Wow! This audiobook is a really powerful story looking at the illegal importing of animals along with drug smuggling and race fixing. This book does not shy away from the horror of what happens to these beautiful animals just because of selfish individuals who put money above everything. The book was fascinating and Bill’s narration as always was perfect for the subject matter and the story. I loved it.
Profile Image for Reggie.
2,681 reviews
August 29, 2019
This is the first book for me in the series, and by this author, and I was pleasantly surprised. How can one lawyer get into so much trouble? LOL. We follow attorney Michael Knight as he tries to find his cousin, who's on the run from the cops, as well as figure out who really murdered his other cousin. Lots of action, Michael's dry wit, and great narration keep you engrossed in the story.
I accepted a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Holly Lenz.
803 reviews2 followers
September 30, 2019
Fatal Odds is a cool lawyer thriller and mystery about horse racing, animal smuggling, and gang wars. There is a lot going on in this book and so much that could go wrong for the protagonist. It’s a thrilling ride!

The narrator of the audiobook brings the characters and the story to life with his lively telling.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook. This is my honest and voluntary review.
Profile Image for Roger.
4,043 reviews14 followers
November 25, 2019
Fatal Odds (Knight and Devlin, #5), my first read/listen from author John F. Dobbyn. Well-written & enjoyable, I found it very enjoyable. Bill Nevitt’s excellent narration made the 11-hour 7-minute mystery/suspense pass quickly. I was given an Audible copy of this book & am voluntarily reviewing it. I definitely need to get more by this author & narrator. (RIP Marley January 20, 2014 - July 24, 2018).
Profile Image for Jan.
4,679 reviews49 followers
February 22, 2020
From horse racing and Italian organized crime in Boston, to the origins of certain gangs in Puerto Rico, to smuggling endangered animals from the Amazon Rainforest this fast paced thriller grabbed me by the imagination and just wouldn't let go. And it's all driven by a risk taking defense attorney who drives expensive cars. Loved the thrill ride!
Narrator Bill Nevitt is brilliant in both the narrative as well as differentiating the multitude of very diverse characters.

484 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2018
If you're an animal lover, like I am, it was a hard read in that regard, but otherwise a nail-biting thriller that I really enjoyed. Great story, great narration, definitely recommended. The book goes into great detail about this industry, and is very enlightening. Job w
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Profile Image for Joan.
378 reviews29 followers
September 4, 2019
This was a good story full of intrigue. I liked how the author went from race fixing to smuggling endangered species and manages to tie it all together flawlessly.
The narrator also does a brilliant job in telling this story and making all the characters come to life.
Although it is the 5th book in a series, it can be read as a stand alone.
67 reviews
January 17, 2020
This was not your typical thriller/mystery! The plot was very different and involved horse racing (maybe typical), the mafia (very typical), and international wild animal smuggling (WHAT??) - an industry of which I was basically ignorant. Michael Knight is a wholesome detective that you just can't help but like and the book unfolds with so many quirks and niggles that you're left holding your breath waiting to see what happens next. This book had me listening far into the night, hoping Michael would be okay and things would work out all right but not sure how they could! The story was quite engrossing. Even though this book was fiction, I did learn a lot about illegal animal trafficking and how that trade is affecting the planet. It certainly opened my eyes to a heinous practice that I was unaware of before reading this book! Bravo to Mr. Dobbyn for entertaining and educating at the same time!
Profile Image for Andy Plonka.
3,399 reviews13 followers
February 16, 2020
The industry of selling exotic animals challenges the drug trade for quick profit. Hopefully increasing awareness of this practice will decrease this crime.
Profile Image for jhanami.
274 reviews7 followers
December 17, 2019
Bill Nevitt is one of the US narrators I tend to like so I picked this up with only a cursory glance at the subject matter and I have to say it was a proper little discovery.
It was very easy to join the series with this fifth instalment although I will now have to check out the first four - the plot is a highly interesting and hard hitting mix of animal smuggling, race fixing and gang wars with a good dash of classic action thriller/ courtroom drama. The characters are well drawn and credible.
Some of the protagonists sounded more Russian than Hispanic but it was still a very enjoyable audiobook.
Profile Image for Trisha.
857 reviews11 followers
November 4, 2019
Michael Knight has to get involved when one cousin is charged with murder for killing his other cousin in the process of a horse race which is unheard of, but this is only the tip of the iceberg and Michael puts himself right in the middle of things he would have never thought.
The action and suspense in this book are huge. This is a great book and if you get the audio narrated by Bill Nevitt than you are in for a treat as he draws you right into Michael’s world and you are right there with him, running and travelling to Puerto Rico, to see the animals. It is a wonderful race car pace story that is told well and when all the pieces come together it is so cool.
Profile Image for Eileen Hall.
1,074 reviews
August 4, 2016
An exciting, well written novel set in the horse racing world. It features the Italian mafia, corruption and a Puerto Rican jockey accused of race fixing and murder.
This is the first Knight and Devlin book I've read, but will be on the lookout for others in the series.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Oceanview via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.
Profile Image for Charles Robinson.
187 reviews1 follower
December 16, 2016

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway and this was a first time read for this author for me. I was really really impressed with the story and writing style from the author. This book was an incredible read from the very first page to the amazing ending. Definitely a page turner and a must for me to go back to the previous stories of the Knight and Devlin legal thrillers.
Profile Image for Martha Brindley.
Author 1 book16 followers
May 9, 2016
A book about horse racing and organised crime gangs. Set in Boston and Puerto Rico .Michael and Lex are defending their client who is charged with murder. Book 4 in the series and worth a read. The plot centres round illicit animal smuggling and I enjoyed the read. Thank you Net Galley for my copy.
Profile Image for Mica.
36 reviews12 followers
March 13, 2017
A light, entertaining, fast paced read. Michael Knight, attorney for his friend and jockey, accused of murder, must solve a case of illicit trade of wild exotic animals in order to clear his client.
522 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2017
Very good until the ending. Too contrived.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews

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