When Dick Francis passed away, it was a sad day. I found the idea of never reading another Dick Francis novel heartbreaking.
I don’t know how old I was when I read my first Dick Francis novel, but I do know that it came in the middle of my “I’m going to be a professional jockey” phase. I’m guessing that’s the reason I picked up that first book. Not only did Dick Francis use the world of steeple chasing as a setting for most of his novels (eventually his novels got away from the horse world, but I’ve never thought they were as good) but he’d also been a steeplechase jockey.
Dick Francis wasn’t just any jockey. He was good. Good enough he was often selected to ride the horses owned by the royal family. During his racing career, he won several championships, though he never won a Grand National. A few years ago I purchased a horse racing book and was delighted to find a few pictures of Mr. Francis during his racing days, including a shot of a tumble he took at a Grand National fence.
After retiring from the racing world, Dick Francis started writing mystery novels. Unlike some people who rely on their name to sell a couple books but lack any real talent, Francis was really good. The great thing about his books is that I feel comfortable recommending them to everyone. They have a little violence but nothing graphic, there are allusions to sex but by today’s standards those scenes are very g-rated, minimal foul language, and the books are well written, nicely plotted with enough suspense and tension to keep the reader hooked. The books are told in first person by the main male character.
My favorite Dick Francis novels, all of which I’ve read several times are: Break In, Bolt, Whip Hand, and Francis collection of short stories, Field of Thirteen.