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Blood Circuit

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1983.

In 1983, most people in this country knew nothing about IROC racing at Daytona, but for some reason Guy Smith set his racing novel there instead of at a more obvious Formula 1 circuit. We follow the troubles of the Hammerton team in their preparations for qualifying at California's Riverside. Led by Lee Hammerton, now that her father and brother have been killed, she brings in Mark Slade to be responsible for security. Slade was last year's runner-up at IROC, but lost his nerve and hid himself away in rural obscurity, all the while guarding his secret. But even with Slade there, the team is still plagued with mishaps: a mechanic is murdered, the main car is sabotaged and Slade survives a couple of murder attempts. And hanging over it all is the legend of the Hammerton curse, in which the legendary deaths of Hammerton ancestors is revisited on another generation.

There are a lot of subplots going on here and Guy Smith handles them variably. Not really a horror novel, this is more of a thriller with horrific aspects, but Smith copes well with the tension and the build-up of atmosphere. He is noticeably more at home in the English countryside than the American racing circuits, and as a result some of the racing passages read like research notes. But what is more unforgivable is the way the curse is left unexplained at the end. For most of the novel it is a constant possibility, though a more realistic explanation is always more likely; but when it actually manifests itself at the finale, it comes in a way inconsistent with its background. An average novel from an author working outside his usual genre.


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