Dick Francis

"Longshot"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAY 25, 1999)

I doubt there is such thing as a bad Dick Francis novel and I just found out that they can be just as good the second time around.  Or at least that's what I found with Longshot.  I picked up a hardcover copy in excellent condition at a used bookstore for $1.00 with the intention to give it away since I had already read it. Well eighteen months later it's still in my collection as I discovered while straightening my bookshelves.  "Why isn't this book on the Dick Francis page?" I asked myself.  Per usual, I started to thumb through it. Next thing, I'm leaving the bookcase a mess and shutting down my computer to curl up on the couch. I had a vague notion that I remembered what happened, but it's a well worded good story in between the action so I kept reading until the end. 

Longshot is about community, survival, writing, and, naturally, race horses. Our narrator, John Kendall, has written six survival guides for adventurers vacationing in the jungle, wilderness, ice or desert. Now he's written his first novel and luckily it has been accepted for publication. Until then, however, he's broke and in need of temporary housing. On an impulse he takes a job writing a biography of a racehorse trainer, Tremayne Vickers. So he heads off for rural England to live at the Vickers' home for a month. From nearly the moment he is picked up at the bus station he puts his survival skills to good use. And as the days pass, he does the same with his natural ability for insight and finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. He soon learns that rural England is just as much a challenge for his survival skills as any of the harshest environments he's written about.

Dick Francis always writes about horses.  I'm amazed at how he can keep coming up with different settings and plots.  Don't worry if you're not a horse lover, the way he writes you won't know you aren't.  Dick Francis' novels are dependable light reads full of mostly nice people, some a little rougher than others. There's always a sentence or two that really makes you appreciate his writing skills as much as his knowledge of horses and whatever other subject he happens to be exploring. I came late to enjoy a good Dick Francis mystery, but I'm doing my best to catch up.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 9 reviews
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"To the Hilt"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark FEB 7, 1998)

Alexander Kinloch is a true eccentric. The 29 year old son of the fourth son of an earl lives in a broken down house on a weatherbeaten Scottish mountainside.  He is far from the affairs of the world and the noble relations, who of course, think he is weird.  He paints pictures of golf courses and is fairly successful monetarily.  He relaxes by playing his bag pipes on mountain top. Then, his mother sends a postcard requesting him to come to London where his stepfather is dying.  And of course, this is when it gets dangerous and the horses come into play.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 30 reviews
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"The Edge"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark FEB 7, 1998)

The Edge
was my first Dick Francis book and the one to turn me into a fan.  This one takes place on the Canadian transcontinental train.  The images of the train ride are still clear in my head even though I read The Edge some time ago.  Francis has a knack for creating strong characters and lasting images

  • Amazon readers rating: from 13 reviews


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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

With or by Felix Frances:

** Sid Halley novel

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

Dick FrancisDick Francis was born in Lawrenny, South Wales in 1920.  He served in the Royal Air Force for six years.  Following the war, he became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing.  He won more than 300 races and was Champion Jockey in 1953/1954.  In 1957, he suffered a serious fall and retired from racing.  He turned to sports writing which led him to fiction writing.  Dick Francis and his wife, Mary, lived in the Cayman Islands, but returned to England yearly for the Grand National. 

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