Dick Francis, former steeplechase jockey turned thriller writer, has always been one of my favorite reads. I started devouring his books in the ‘60s and have read everyone since then (43 in all) and own most of them. They are like old friends, whom I visit from time to time. I was stricken by his death in 2010 but glad to know that his son Felix, who had collaborated with him on his last four books, was taking up the reins (or PC) to continue his father’s legacy. You know a Francis hero will be strong, compassionate and a decent man. He will undergo some physical trial and will come out of it bruised, battered but eventually triumphant.
Gamble is Felix’s first solo effort. He has been working as a researcher for his father’s books for years and did most of the writing on the last four. I loved Gamble. It opens with a murder at a racecourse in full view of 60,000 Grand National fans. Our hero is Nicholas (Foxy) Foxton, a successful steeplechase jockey who quit racing after a career ending broken neck. He’s now an independent financial advisor for a firm that specializes in high-risk investments and the murder victim was his friend and co-worker Herb Kovak. He’s surprised to be named executor and beneficiary of Herb’s estate, especially because he finds huge balances on multiple credit cards in Herb’s home office. It turns out that Herb was involved in Internet gambling. All of a sudden, big thuggish men are trying to kill Foxy and somehow manage to track him down all over the country. A racehorse owner and client of Foxy’s with a question about his investment in Bulgarian real estate also turn up dead. The pace quickens as he tries to stay one step ahead of the bad guys and find the cause of all the mayhem.
All the Francis novels involve racing or horses to some extent. Like a horse race, they provide thrills and a gallop to the finish. Try Gamble. Felix Francis has firmly taken the reins of the family franchise in his capable hands.