When the racing author’s wife, Mary, died in 2000, as well as empathising with his loss, we Francis fans also mourned what we thought was the end of a great literary partnership. But the Dick-otomy continues; Dick Francis now corroborates with his son, Felix.
And between them they’ve cooked up a corker. Dead Heat begins with two explosive incidents; one literally, the other involving food poisoning by (of all things) kidney beans. The most shocking, however, is a bomb planted in a private box at Newmarket. Skip the descriptions of the aftermath if you’ve had a heavy lunch.
The protagonist, Max Moreton, is a chef of a successful restaurant called The Hay Net, and also does outside catering. He has a love interest called Caroline Aston, a viola player — he’s another beau to her string.
Throw into the pot, after the poisoning and the bomb, a car crash and a fire, and you have Dick Francis cooking on gas. The plot, for all it stretches your credibility — and doesn’t he always? — is clever, if not ingenious, and keeps the reader guessing.
Dick Francis is no has-bean.