Ex-jockey-turned-private-detective Sid Halley is back in Dick Francis’s 40th thriller. This time, Halley’s investigating the murder of jockey Huw Walker, shot at Cheltenham just hours after winning the Triumph Hurdle — and minutes after Sid is asked to look into why some of Huw’s mounts keep losing. But is this a saga of race-fixing, adultery or both?
One of my favourite parts of Dick Francis’s fiction is the often-unusual detail in the personal life of the super-sleuth — in this case we’re treated to a prosthetic left hand, a bitter ex-wife with a charming father and a beautiful Dutch girlfriend, who just happens to have a colleague who can do DNA analysis.
This novel snowballs in pace, with fascinating detail interspersed by the odd bit of violence as it moves to a thrilling conclusion. It’s classic Dick Francis, and none the worse for that. But one word of caution — if you’re more than halfway through it, don’t leave an important job undone when you pick it up to read a couple of pages. The horses could be hungry by the time you put it down.
Published by Penguin. ISBN 0399154000