Friday, February 02, 2007


Dick Francis writes good mysteries. There are worse ways to spend a damp, cold afternoon than in a rocking chair in front of a fire, mindlessly knitting and reading Reflex by Dick Francis.

This is only the third mystery by Francis that I've read, and already I'm wondering how he manages to make each one so different. This one definitely had more of racing and the life of a jockey in it than did the other two, but it was still a page-turner. I'm not a horse-lover. I did go through a phase from about 9 to 11 years of age when I read every fiction and non-fiction book on horses I could find. All of Marguerite Henry's horse books, lots of the Black Stallion series, Black Beauty, All about Horses (I practically memorized that) and countless others. I drew horses constantly, and talked earnestly with my girl friends of palominos, pintos, Tennessee Walkers, fetlocks, manes, etc. Now I have no interest in that, and have never watched horse-racing - not even the Kentucky Derby. So I'm amazed at these books by Dick Francis. They all have horse-racing as the backdrop for the story, but what incredibly different stories - and they're good!

Reflex is a bit rawer and rougher with the characters and situations than I was expecting. I don't want to spoil any of the mysteries, so I'll try to be careful... The sleuth in this book, Philip Nore, is currently a jockey, with a photography hobby on the side. Nore is pretty much a man with no family, and no background, summoned at the start of the story to the bedside of a dying grandmother he has never before met. (Francis must have deeply researched photography for this book, because he goes into fascinating, pertinant-to-the-story detail about developing photos.) There are really two mysteries that are solved - one family-related and the other work-related. There's a somewhat happy ending for the jockey, and a surprise in the revelation of the motives of one character.

That's a horrible review, but any more said might be too much. A caution: not happy family situations (shocked me a bit to know that Grandmother read this one!).



Blogger Homeschool Help Web said...

Oh, I love Dick Francis! I have tons of his books. They are a bit formulaic, but just enough different to be fun. And yes, he does do a lot of research when he wanders into non-horse territory, so that makes it good.

9:25 AM  
Blogger At A Hen's Pace said...

I'm a Dick Francis fan too. I was a big horse fan as a child, and I still enjoy being around horses when I can, but apart from that, I've always enjoyed the new occupations I learn about through his novels.


10:06 AM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

I haven't read any of his mysteries in years but I have some and I'll start again.
I went through the horse phase too when I was 11-13. I drew horses and collected them. I also stuch a bumper sticker on the back of the family station wagon that said American Quarter Horses (or something like that). I hoped that people reading it would think we had one (or more).

7:50 PM  

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