Some books are old favorites that we return to over and over, despite knowing the events and plot to infinite detail, because the journey is so enjoyable. On occasion, an author excels at creating that head space, where every book they write is like an old friend to be picked up and savored more than once.
Jockey Bill Davidson is riding a race behind, as usual, his best friend Alan York who is riding the brilliant Admiral. On the way to winning yet another race, suddenly Admiral and Alan tumble over a fence, resulting in Alan’s death. Bill is convinced the fall was staged, and tells the police, who seem uninterested.
Bill investigates on his own, examining the site and delving into the intricacies of his top jockey friend’s life. Kate, an attractive owner new to horse-racing, helps him uncover the plot the despite the competitive advances on Kate by a fellow jockey. Bill is obstructed and questioned by the police about his role in the affair until he finally discovers what led to the tragedy of Alan’s death.
Dick Francis’ first book, Dead Cert showcases his strengths as an author. Compelling plots, likable protagonists, and a gift for putting you into the world of horse-racing from many perspectives. Francis went on to write forty-six bestsellers, all related to the horse racing world. He has protagonists from all walks of life – an accountant, a glass-blower, artist, toy maker and even a government agent illustrate Francis’ world of horses and racing. Having so many different protagonists means, unlike most mystery writers, you can grab any book by Francis and not have to worry about reading them in chronological order. His plots are fascinating, weaving in and out of the passion and greed that inhabits his world, dropping hints along the way so the amateur sleuth in all of us can sometimes ferret out the truth.
Note: In researching this review, I went to our stacks where I ran across For Kicks, another favorite, and checked it out -because I know I’ll enjoy the ride.