I'm not entirely sure how to classify 'Bullet Work'. I suppose it's a mystery novel, but the mystery, suspense and drama seem to take second place to the race track's backside. In the long and,often, irrelevant commentary about how horse racing, training, betting, and all else, the criminal element takes a backseat. The mystery that unravels as the story progresses, is good. It would make a fast paced and emotional read, if it weren't for the monotony of description. I just didn't care how or why a jockey needed to keep under a certain weight, or what a condition book is and how it's used - I wanted the mystery!!
When the story finally ramped up and the good guys were closing in ... you know, the point where the action should be causing the reader's heart to beat just a little faster ... it felt a little anti-climactic. I just didn't care enough about the characters. The one character that did resonate with me was AJ, the horse whisperer (for lack of a better term). He was the only character in the book that felt 'real'.
If Steve O'Brien had written a novel focused on the community of the backside, it would have been good. If he had written a mystery, it could have been good. Putting the two together just didn't work.