Saturday, April 18, 2009

Silks -- Dick Francis & Felix Francis

This is the second collaboration between Dick Francis and his son, Felix, and it's another winner. The narrator is Geoffrey Mason, a barrister and amateur jockey. One of Mason's clients is sent to prison, but the conviction is overturned. Mason begins getting threatening phone calls from the client, but not about the conviction. Mason is supposed to take the case of Steve Mitchell, a jockey accused of murder, and lose the case. You can imagine how a Dick Francis hero would react to that kind of threat.

Or maybe not. Mason turns out not to be the usual Francis hero, at least not quite. He's afraid of being hurt, and he shows fear more than once. Sure, he can (and does) take a tremendous amount of punishment, but only at the end does he fight back. Also, his actions throughout the book are a good bit more morally ambiguous than usual in Francis, especially at the end.

The writing is smooth, the suspense well-maintained, and you get two books for the price of one, a racing thriller and a legal thriller. Judy also read this book and said that there was Too Much Information. Francis has always used plenty of his research in his books, and maybe it shows more here than in earlier novels. You'll find out plenty about the British legal system and about diseases of horses, among other things. None of that slowed the book down for me. I enjoyed it, as I've enjoyed all Francis's work for the past forty-five years or so. Check it out.

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