I had been thinking: Do I really want to read about horse races? I only watch the Kentucky Derby and sometimes two more races, if there's hope for a Triple Crown.
My friend had been urging me to read Dick Francis, and recently recommended Forfeit, which finally I read.
In the book, Francis is always low-key and, as a former jockey, knows his stuff. Suspense is permanent, the plotting intelligent and flawless.
In Forfeit, we follow journalist James Tyrone, as he and his London newspaper colleagues investigate racetrack fraud. The highly profitable criminal organizations pressure racing writers to mislead England's legitimate bettors. The perpetrators are not hesitant to inflict serious bodily harm and worse.
Francis draws his characters carefully. We know them all, sometimes gaining our affection, identifying with their personal struggles. Tyrone cares for his mostly paralyzed wife Elizabeth, who could not survive without a breathing machine.
A major plot mover is a relationship between Tyrone and an attractive university professor, leading to extended complications and threats.
We also meet a stable owner who is dealing with his spacy wife and troublesome sons. We see the bad guys. We are introduced to the horses, especially a central one named Tiddely Pom.
We are in the British racing world. The writing is memorable.