Yeah, he was a jockey and there is always a horse around somewhere, but the books are often only peripherally about racing.


[posted to Goodreads in 2010 after Dick Francis died]

I’ve been rereading all the Dick Francis on the shelf in the Homer Public Library. This one is still my favorite. Painter Alexander Kinloch, nephew of a Scottish earl, is summoned from his aerie in Scotland by his mother to tend to his step-father, whose prosperous brewery has been ripped off to insolvency by its disappeared comptroller. Wonderful characters in contained but loving mother Vivienne; dithery but honorable step-father Ivan; proud, stubborn, hilarious uncle Himself (the earl); viperous but charming step-sister Patsy and her execrable husband Surtees; and one of the more capable and most amusing sidekicks I’ve ever read in the private investigative team of Young and Utley. The creation of the portrait of Zoe Lang is genius–wonderfully descriptive and mesmerizing.

Reflex, Straight, Banker, Proof, Decider also wonderful. Yeah, he was a jockey and there is always a horse around somewhere, but the books are often only peripherally about racing. Part of the greatness of his novels lies in the different worlds he explores in each of them, painting in To The Hilt, photography in Reflex, gemstones in Straight, venture capitalism in Banker, wine in Proof, architecture in Decider. He writes pretty much the same character every time, first person male, young, stubborn, honest, honorable, never a whiner, always calm and cool and on occasion astonishingly forgiving. Maybe it’s always the same narrator, but it’s someone you want to know, and the writing is excellent. Read Proof for the telephone conversation between English Tony and French Henri, worth the price of the book alone.

Book Review Monday Chatter Uncategorized

Dana View All →

Author and founder of

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. My favorite of his is Longshot, followed closely by Proof, Second Wind, Risk, the Sid Halley trilogy, and Straight. I reread all of the Dick a Francis mysteries every year or so. I had to stop reading when his son stepped in as co-author; the later books lack Dick Francis’ special style.

    • Longshot is one of my favorites, too. He went overboard with the torture on the Sid Halleys. And agreed, after the first one I don’t read his son’s books. That special Francis flavor died with Dick.

  2. Dick’s books are mellow and don’t have as much gritty edge to them as the books Felix writes. Anyway that’s how I remember feeling about them. I buy all the old ones on sale to replenish my lost books.

  3. Dick Francis is a master storyteller and I love his books. Read them all several times. His characters, like Dana’s, become real and stay with you.

  4. I actually met him many years ago at the British Ling Jump balloon race. He was researching hot air balloons for Whip Hand. We talked for quite a while. The character in the book, John Viking, is based on a blend of a couple of balloonists flying at that time. I was one of I think two female pilots in the race and had recently set a woman’s altitude record. I was putting it around that we were going to go “high” and catch the faster winds to beat out our competition. I was delighted when that got written into the book. His description of ballooning is, by the way, very accurate.

  5. 10 LB Penalty is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve got all of his books and have probably read all of them at least 15 times. Outside of 10 LB Penalty, it’s had to decide which one to read next because they are all excellent, very entertaining and very well written. I was heartbroken when he died.

  6. The Dick Francis mysteries have been on my ” stranded on a desert island” checklist for eons. One of the things I like about the books is the main characters are not all from the same cookie cutter. They’re not even all likeable. Several of the books were made into movies years and years ago.

Leave a Reply