Dick Francis is back! After a six-year hiatus in his writing career he rides again. Sid Halley, the star of three former novels, is an ex-champion jockey. A crippling injury forced him into retirement in Whiphand. Sid hasn’t appeared since 1995 in Come to Grief.
Dick Francis has written more than 40 books in his career, and most are involved with the English horseracing scene. Although the racetrack is central to each story, the books also involve such diverse topics as meteorology, banking, painting, and kidnapping. There is always something interesting to be learned from a Francis novel. In Under Orders, DNA mapping is introduced. In Proof, it’s the wine business, and in Smokescreen, film production is paired with racing.
The action starts at Cheltenham, a very popular racecourse, with three deaths on Gold Cup Day. The Gold Cup is a famous race offering a substantial purse. Thus begins a rather unusual for a day at the races, even for Sid Halley. He discovers the body of jockey Huw Walker, with three bullets in him, shortly after being asked to investigate a possible race-fixing scheme. Race-fixing is a chronic problem in high-stakes racing, and is coupled with the newer concern of internet gambling in another on-going investigation of this remarkable story.
This is Francis at his classic best, with excellent characterizations, fast pace and full of suspense. The ending has a nice twist and even a nice bit of romance involving Halley’s new significant other person. This book is highly recommended—as are all forty others of his as well.
Under Orders is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at http://www.uintalibrary.org/, or just type WYLD on your search bar and check out Wyoming’s information portal! From the WYLD site you can access your account, renew your books, put books on hold, and look at all the new databases.
Reviewed by Mary Hipol, Uinta County Library 11/17/2006