Re-read. This has one of Francis’s best premises, and the execution lives up to it. Neil Griffon, an antique dealer, has temporarily taken over his trainer father’s stable after his father was seriously injured in a car crash. Neil is kidnapped by a dangerous madman who demands, on pain of destroying the stable, that Neil hire his son Alessandro as a jockey… and let him ride their prize stallion in the Kentucky Derby.

The theme here is fathers and sons. Neil’s father was emotionally abusive and distant, but competent in his own sphere; Neil, forced to step into his shoes, must gain the trust of all the employees who prefer his father. Alessandro’s father is a sociopathic megalomaniac, but gave him everything he ever wanted. The heart of the book is the relationship between Alessandro and Neil, an oddly paternal one though Neil is only 15 years older, and Alessandro’s growth into becoming his own person.

Excellent suspense, plus Francis’s usual good characterization of the supporting cast. My favorite here was Etty, confident in her place as a female “head lad” in a male-dominated profession. Though Francis doesn’t use the word “asexual,” Neil describes her as having no interest in sex. The phrasing isn’t sensitive in current terms, but the sentiment is nonjudgmental.

One of my favorite things about this book was the way that Alessandro seemed to have stepped out of an entirely different novel, one where the arrogant and damaged young man is the romantic lead, and was forced to interact with Francis’s down-to-earth characters, who either didn’t notice how hot he was or noticed but didn’t let it cloud their judgment. His interactions with the no-time-for-this-shit Etty were comedy gold.

Warning for horse harm.
wordweaverlynn: (Default)

From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn


I love that one for all the reasons you give. Also the idea that serious dedication to art/craft/work can heal.
sara: Once you visit...you won't want to leave the City of Books (books)

From: [personal profile] sara


I have been rereading some Dick Francis lately, for the first time since I first read them in high school (my dad was a big fan) and have been surprised by how good some of them are. Very much of their time, and a couple have just not held up, but the good ones remain quite good.
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard


This sounds really interesting. I think I'm going to check it out of the local public library.
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard


Thanks for the rec! I just finished reading it, and I enjoyed it even more than I expected. Enough that when I sampled it at the library, I bought a copy of my own, which arrived today.
minnaway: (Default)

From: [personal profile] minnaway


That is one of my favorites too.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)

From: [personal profile] cyphomandra


I do like this one - as you say, Alessandro does not impress Francis' characters at all, and it's great.

I've been trying to remember my first Dick Francis as per your lj discussion - possibly one of the Kit Fielding ones? Which I do like, although it'd be hard to pick a favourite. Not least because I find it very difficult to match the titles with a particular plot/protagonist..

My understanding is that Mary Francis, his wife, did a lot of the research for the books, and may have cowritten them. I've also avoided the Felix co writes, but I'm not sure if the ones he wrote after his wife's death show any differences.

From: [identity profile] magenta-girl.livejournal.com


I just saw one of your Dick Francis posts on the main page, and since I re-read his stuff all the time I felt I had to comment. Bonecrack was the first Francis I ever read!
Which one is your favorite?
Edited Date: 2014-07-12 10:10 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I love lots of them lots. But Odds Against is my favorite. And also the first one I read.

Which is your favorite?

From: [identity profile] magenta-girl.livejournal.com


I also like lots of them. I am rather partial to The Danger. Odds Against is really good!

From: [identity profile] desperance.livejournal.com


I wonder if your first is often your favourite? I was fetched into Dick Francis, by a friend who had read them all and felt I was missing something golden. She considered me carefully, up down and sideways, and then sent me to bed with Reflex.

That would've been, um, mid-eighties? So then I read everything that had come out, and as the new one appeared I gobbled 'em up, and I have early favourites and late favourites - but if I had to pick only one, it might well be Reflex.

(One of the things I love about his books is that he's very good with other people's expertises, and I am always susceptible to someone with a skill. Reflex is exemplary in that regard. Which might be why Lellie picked it.)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I need to re-read that one. I recall liking it but not much else.

But yeah! There does seem to be a pattern of imprinting on the first one.

From: [identity profile] nipernaadiagain.livejournal.com


This makes me want to check which one was my first Francis.

My recollections are hazy, but it might be that my reasons would be situational rather than the surprise and pleasure of finding a new author.

But even if it might not be my favorite, just the one I recall best, "Longshot" is remembered by me by giving me a false reassurance* and for the cooking scene (I do not know how it is in other places of the world, but here people in hospitals seem always be thinking of food, so I did reread this scene many times).

* I was reading in hospital and was feeling worried for the scene all Francis books have, where the main hero gets badly hurt. But "Longshot" has TWO scenes of danger and the first one made me sigh with relief 'Oh, this one was not as bad as he usually does them!'

From: [identity profile] fadethecat.livejournal.com


I've never read Dick Francis before, but I keep meaning to give him a try; this sounds right up my alley, so I've requested it from the library.

From: [identity profile] lorataprose.livejournal.com


I ... I misread the last line as "warning for horse harem"

From: [identity profile] consonantia.livejournal.com


One of my favorite things about this book was the way that Alessandro seemed to have stepped out of an entirely different novel, one where the arrogant and damaged young man is the romantic lead, and was forced to interact with Francis’s down-to-earth characters, who either didn’t notice how hot he was or noticed but didn’t let it cloud their judgment.

I love that idea!
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