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4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form with One of Dick Francis's Great Heroes, Sid Halley, Nov. 21 2006
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Under Orders (Hardcover)
Under Orders is vintage Dick Francis. Steeple chasing, horses, riders, trainers, owners, stable hands, bettors, and bookies abound. What's more, we get to see another side of Sid Halley as he continues his successful detective business and falls in love again.

I was impressed at how well Dick Francis handled the technical details of the story. This is a writer firmly in touch with the 21st century, handling his material like a much younger person.

In one day at the races, there are three deaths. One is almost unnoticed. Another is mourned nationwide, while the final one stirs up a controversy. Naturally, it's the last death that attracts Sid's attention. In the beginning of the story, everyone seems to want to hire Sid to find out what's going on . . . believing that things are not as they seem. Sid is inclined to agree as subsequent events don't fit his sense of the characters of the people involved. Helped by his suspicions, Sid gradually unravels the various mysteries . . . and brings great danger. The crisis scene near the end is one of the most convincing and relevant to a Dick Francis story that I can remember.

If I liked the story so much, why didn't I grade it at five stars? The mystery is pretty transparent. Had the mystery been more opaque, this would have been one of the all-time great Dick Francis stories. As it is, you'll ride happily over the obstacles to arrive at the end in record time!
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Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Under Orders (Hardcover)
To the best of my knowledge it has been six years since the last Dick Francis mystery. I had reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that there probably wouldn't be another one, but here it is! Another entertaining read from the master of track thrillers featuring one of my favorite protagonists, Sid Halley, former jockey who lost a hand thus ending his career in racing. He then turned to sleuthing with an eagle eye and a nose for the nefarious.

In this, his 42nd book, Francis wastes no time in hooking readers: "Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow. That only one of the deaths was of a horse was more than enough to bring the local constabulary hotfoot to the track."

One of the recently departed is jockey Huy Walker - dispatched with three bullets to the heart. He had been having an affair with trainer Bill Burton's wife. That was more than enough to put Burton at the top of the suspect list......until Burton himself turned up dead.

Halley had been approached by Lord Enstone to look into why Enstone's horses weren't getting anywhere near the Winner's Circle. Enstone wants to know what's going on at the track - bribes, race fixing?

Well, that kind of skullduggery is bad enough but murder is quite another thing. Halley feels compelled to look into the killings, but in doing so puts his own life at risk.

As always, readers will relish the author's thorough knowledge of racing and his deft way with a plot. Racing, as we know, is the sport of kings. Exemplary crime fiction is the sport of Dick Francis.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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Under Orders
Under Orders by Dick Francis (Hardcover - Sept. 1 2006)
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