Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Silks by Dick Francis

At the amazing age of 88, Dick Francis has recently published his 44th novel, Silks. Francis' son Felix gets a co-author credit on this, as in their first collaboration, Dead Heat. Despite a heavy-handedness in the characterizations, Silks has all of the Francis trademarks: absurdly handsome hero, check; ascension of right over might, check; horse racing, check; violence, check. Geoffrey Mason is a widowed barrister and amateur steeplechase jockey who makes a dangerous enemy when he prosecutes the young ruffian Julian Trent. Too soon, Trent is out of jail and becomes the executor of a series of anonymous threats Mason receives when he undertakes the defense of a jockey accused of muder. Along the way you learn about foaling operations, horse racing over hurdles, how jockeys cheat at weigh-ins, and the English justice system (which is just like ours). This might not be Francis and company at the height of his powers, but how could Dick Francis not be a good read?