McEvoy, John 1936-

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McEvoy, John 1936-


Born May 10, 1936; married; wife's name Judy; children: Julia.


Home—Evanston, IL.


Writer and editor. Previously taught college English for three years, then worked for several newspapers, including the Milwaukee Journal; Daily Racing Form, Chicago, IL, 1964-1997, began as copy editor, became Midwest editor and senior correspondent.


Great Horse Racing Mysteries: True Tales from the Track, Blood-Horse (Lexington, KY), 2000.

(With daughter, Julia McEvoy) Women in Racing: In Their Own Words, Eclipse Press (Lexington, KY), 2001.

Round Table, Eclipse Press (Lexington, KY), 2002.

(Editor) The Seabiscuit Story: From the Pages of the Nation's Most Prominent Racing Magazine, Eclipse Press (Lexington, KY), 2003.

Blind Switch (novel), Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.

Riders Down (novel), Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

Close Call (novel), Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2008.


John McEvoy began his career teaching college-level English, but his early love of writing and horse racing eventually led him to work for several newspapers. He eventually settled into a position as a copy writer for the Daily Racing Form, which was based out of Chicago, and worked his way up through the ranks of the paper for more than thirty years. McEvoy began writing as a high school student, working for his school paper, and it was as a child that he also became interested in horse racing. His mother was a fan of the sport, and used to orchestrate family outings to the races. In an interview posted on his home page, McEvoy explained: "We used to drive from our home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to old Washington Park on Chicago's far southside—three hours one way in those days. I saw the great racehorse Native Dancer there in 1953 and I was hooked on racing from then on."

When McEvoy began to write books, as well, it was natural that he should choose horses as a topic once more. He wrote a number of books based on famous horses and jockeys, including Great Horse Racing Mysteries: True Tales from the Track and Women in Racing: In Their Own Words, which he wrote with his daughter, Julia McEvoy. He also served as editor for The Seabiscuit Story: From the Pages of the Nation's Most Prominent Racing Magazine. Women in Racing includes interviews with a number of prominent women in the sport. Patsy E. Gray, in a review for the Library Journal, commented of the stories included in the book: "Though their perspectives vary, these women all share a love of horses and a belief in hard work."

McEvoy also began writing fiction, drawing on his knowledge of horses by setting his stories in the world of the race track. His first novel, Blind Switch, kicks off a series of mysteries that revolve around horse racing. It begins as Jack Doyle, an advertising copywriter who is out of both work and luck, decides to fix a horse race along with a man he knows from his local gym. However, his bad luck continues when the FBI shows up soon after the deal goes down, threatening him with jail should he choose not to cooperate with their investigation. The agents are looking for assistance to catch someone else who has been fixing the horse races. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked of the book that "a mesmerizing, all-too-human protagonist, a playful tone and exceptionally lively language more than make up for any flaws."

Riders Down is the next title McEvoy sets in the horse racing world. In this book, hero Matt O'Connor, a journalist in Chicago who covers the horse races, has a set of somewhat seedy acquaintances who help him to keep abreast of news in the sport. He finds himself up against a former trust-fund baby, Claude Bledsoe, who is determined to fix a horse race. But Matt's involvement causes nothing but trouble, both for him and for his girlfriend, horse trainer Maggie Collins, when it looks like their investigation into the betting scheme may get them killed. Dennis Dodge, in a review for Booklist, remarked that McEvoy "gives us characters we can care about and suspense enough to make the blood race like a stakes-winning sprinter."

McEvoy's next horse-related thriller, Close Call, marks the return of Jack Doyle from Blind Switch. Jack gets hired by Celia McCann when she inherits the controlling share of her uncle's race track and is desperate for ways to keep the place afloat. When someone begins to sabotage the track, Jack sets out to stop them before they put Celia out of business for good. This book was less popular with critics than McEvoy's earlier novels, with a contributor for Kirkus Reviews finding it all "routine thrust and parry stuffed with anecdotes, blarney, recycled jokes and colorful characters with nothing much to do."



Booklist, February 15, 2006, Dennis Dodge, review of Riders Down, p. 50.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2008, review of Close Call.

Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Patsy E. Gray, review of Women in Racing: In Their Own Words, p. 190; July, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Blind Switch, p. 63.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 2004, review of Blind Switch, p. 47; January 16, 2006, review of Riders Down, p. 40; January 7, 2008, review of Close Call, p. 39.


John McEvoy Home Page, (February 16, 2008).