The Vanguard Press/Pegasus Publishers, €13.99

These days a group of friends investing in a racehorse is not limited to those with lots of cash in Ireland, so it's no surprise a fictional account of this experience has emerged.

Four buddies pitch in ten grand for a horse called Satan's Whiskers, partly to win but mainly just for the fun of it. This means Matt, Dave, Shipsey and Macker now have another conversation topic to add to their sparkling repertoire of toilet jokes and women's vital statistics.

They all work in financial institutions, except for Shipsey who is a car salesman, and spend their spare time in their local, where no decision gets made before three pints are lowered.

A few chapters in and the dialogue starts to stifle a little. You may feel like a pioneer locked in a pub for 24 hours with a pack of lads who consider daring each other to walk backward to the toilet all night to be first class entertainment. On the other hand you could be in your element depending on your social life preference.

A brief introduction of the protagonists is as follows, and if these descriptions appeal and feel familiar, then this book, which is Costello's first, could show up in your Christmas stocking.

Dave - drinks heavily, decent sort, desperate for a woman, likes football. Macker - football fan, total womaniser, heavy boozer, dumped a girl he really liked because he discovered she had big ears.

Shipsey - decent sort, likes drinking and footie. Is in a long term relationship that sees plenty of fighting. Matt - the group's mascot. Is going out with a model who is anxious to get married and buy an apartment, but he is happy living with Dave - grunting and cracking open beers in front of the footie.

We follow the lads on their adventures racing Satan's Whiskers at different events around Ireland and even ending up at Cheltenham.

Along with lots of heavy boozing sessions and racing scenes, a large chunk of the book is given over to the romantic journey each of the protagonists take and also to the issue of coping when parents take ill.

On the plus side occasionally Costello writes with real insight on these relationships, capturing the chasm between the laughs in the pub and the voice in the head. Also, it's a humorous enough read with enough laughs to justify its existence.

However, the pub style camaraderie feels monotonous after a while, and overall would probably work much better on film.

Mary McCarthy