Friday, November 04, 2011

Forgotten Books: Odds Against -- Dick Francis

Now that Dick Francis has gone to that big racetrack in the sky, Felix Francis has inherited the writing chores and appears to be doing just fine. So his father is probably not at much risk of being forgotten. Still, Odds Against, my favorite of his novels, is out of print, so I thought this might be a good time to mention it.

I did a post about this book a while back, and instead of going into the story about how I first encountered Francis' work, I'll just let you click on the link and read all about it.

This is the first book about Sid Halley, a former rider who's had to leave the track because of an injury. Now he's a private-eye. He's also got all the baggage that Francis' heroes usually carry: a terrible injury, a wife who's left him, and severe depression. Oh, yeah. He's also just been shot in the stomach. Halley's no Jack Taylor, but he certainly has troubles enough.

When he recovers from the gunshot wound, Sid is hired to look into what appears to be a scheme to buy a racetrack and build a housing development on the property. Complications ensue.

I wonder if all the people writing the "new noir" have read Francis. His characters go through at least as much punishment as most of those today, and sometimes more. Somehow it all seems more upbeat when Francis does it. At any rate, after reading Odds Against, I read every Francis novel that appeared for 40 years or so and never regretted a minute of the time.


George said...

I haven't read all of Dick Francis, but I've read at least a dozen of his novels. And, you're right: his characters take a lot of punishment.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Always surprised he's not mentioned more. I have read a few of them.