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.
- Gail Cooke