Archive for 'Francis, Dick'
I have a friend of the female persuasion who is a librarian, and like almost all librarians she absolutely loves books. I once asked her if she had read all the Dick Francis stories, and she replied, â€œNo, Iâ€™m saving them for my retirement.â€ What fortitude. What a wonderful prospect to savorâ€¦ knowing that there are countless hours of delightful reading ahead.
While Francis might not be considered one of the classic English mystery authors, itâ€™s only fair to consider that heâ€™s been writing them since 1962! I think 45 years shows a bit of staying power, and I think all his mysteries are still in print. Since Liz has reviewed his latest, I thought I would reach back to 1969. And, while itâ€™s not my all-time favorite, â€œEnquiryâ€ is the book I invariably recommend as someoneâ€™s first Dick Francis novel.
As the story opens, successful jockey Kelly Hughes and Dexter Cranfield, the trainer for whom he rides, have just been â€œwarned offâ€â€¦ lost their licenses for racing in all of the United Kingdom. Kelly knew that the Stewards Disciplinary Committee came to that decision after reviewing faked evidenceâ€¦ in short, they were framed. But by whom? â€œEnquiryâ€ details Kellyâ€™s investigation into the matter, a nearly-successful attempt on his life, a savage beating by one of the culprits, and even a bit of romance.
Like all Dick Francis stories, itâ€™s a good readâ€¦ well plotted, with believable characters and good dialogue. For someone who hasnâ€™t yet encountered Dick Francisâ€™s world (much of which revolves around horseracing) â€œEnquiryâ€ is an excellent introduction.
Unlike other authors Iâ€™ve reviewed, Francis has refused to get himself locked into a format centered around one hero. Of all his 40-something books, only four feature investigator Sid Halley, and two others involve a jockey named Kit Fielding. All the other protagonists, while they may have some involvement with racing, include a movie director, accountant, veterinarian, meteorologist, airline pilot, bloodstock agent, and even a glassblower. So, while the elements of mystery story construction are often (always?) the same, at least the reader can expect something fresh in each book. And thatâ€™s a lot to say about an author who has produced gem after gem for 45 years.
Mystery Book Reviews by DW at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007
After a six year hiatus, Dick Francis is back. And he brought Sid Halley with him. Like Francis, his fictional private detective Halley is a former jockey who had to give up racing due to injury – Halley now wears a prosthetic hand and does background checks and other investigations for various parties involved in the racing industry. After an unusual day at the racetrack, in which three deaths occur, Halley suddenly finds himself up to his neck in new cases.
Those of you familiar with Francis’ books will know that most of them are free-standing mysteries. This is the fourth Sid Halley book – the first of which was written in 1969 – and, as might be expected when a series is written over almost 40 years, the character has changed a little. Halley is a little older, a little more settled, and a little more wary of the risks that he used to take. This is partly because he has more to lose – he has a new woman in his life.
If I had never read any of Francis’ other books, I would give this one an excellent review. Francis writes great books (see my entry called In Anticipation of a new Dick Francis Book for why I think they are great) and this is no exception, but… This book lacks some of the smoothness that his other books have. I suspect that returning to writing after the death of his wife (who helped with research for his books) and getting back into the routine of writing was rocky and it shows a little in this book.
However, this book still has excellent plot lines, fantastic characters, good action, and keeps you guessing about the ultimate villian right up until the very end. It also has some of Francis’ unique special touches – insights into the characters that show just how good a student of human nature he really is.
Did I guess it? Some, but not all. Will I read another Dick Francis book? Are you kidding? I have read every one except this one at least twice.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at reviewedbyliz.com Â©2006