The Bottom Line: Breakage reads like an instant classic, delivering the crackling mobster bravado of Goodfellas with the emotional heft of A Beautiful Mind.
Donnie Chariot, the unparalleled genius of horse racing handicapping, dominates the betting lines nationwide. Known as “The Book,” his uncanny ability to decipher data – including past performances, weight, weather, track, bloodlines, jockey and much more – has earned him immense wealth and authority. And Donnie’s talent runs in the family. His daughter, Donna, possesses the same gift.
But tragedy strikes when early onset Alzheimer’s begins to rob him of his extraordinary talent. As the book opens, Donnie’s doctor advises him to tell Donna. Unfortunately, the two haven’t spoken in years, and bringing her back into his life won’t be easy. She’s just as hard-edged, as her parenting style shows (to daughter Lexy: “You’ll be well-rounded if I have to sand the edges off you with a broomstick”).
If the Churchill Downs race is any indication, Donnie is losing his touch fast. One unhappy customer blames The Book for losing nearly seventeen million dollars. Before long, his struggle may have dangerous consequences for the entire family.
As the stakes in this crime thriller ratchet ever-higher, author David-Michael Harding fleshes out Donnie’s character with painstaking details that make him come to life, ranging from flawlessly completed sudoku puzzles to the intricacies of his handicapping lingo and methods. What’s more, the emotional heft as Donnie struggles to come to terms with his diagnosis and bring his family together are moving.