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Silks Hardcover – 4 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (4 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718154576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718154578
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

There are few thriller writers who have had such long and distinguished careers as Dick Francis, and his lengthy series of books (with their zesty recreations of the racing world) are among many readers' favourite novels in the genre. Recently, ill-health seemed to threaten the author's reliable productivity, and the death of his wife (who had long been a behind-the-scenes collaborator on his books) made it appear that the golden days of the Dick Francis racing thriller were firmly in the past. However, here is Silks, the result of a collaboration between Dick Francis and his son Felix -- and it will be a welcome arrival for the legions of Francis admirers.

Julian Trent is found guilty of a violent unprovoked attack on an innocent family and a charge of attempted murder. He is accused by the judge of showing no remorse for his actions, but receives a remarkably light sentence. Surprisingly, this news is not welcome to his defence barrister, Geoffrey Mason, who was secretly hoping for a more severe judgement against his client, whom he does not like. Mason is a part-time jockey (this is a novel with Dick Francis's name on the jacket, after all), and when Mason dons his racing silks and travels to Sandown to follow his real passion -- riding a thoroughbred in a heated steeplechase -- he finds that he cannot leave the violence that is often the bread and butter of his profession behind him A fellow rider is savagely killed by a pitchfork driven through the chest, and there is a persuasive amount of evidence against champion jockey Steve Mitchell as the killer, but Mason becomes involved -- and finds all the various aspects of his life coalescing in a lethal fashion.

Dick Francis has 41 novels under his belt, and remains the consummate thriller practitioner. Felix, his son, had helped with the research on his father's novels over the last 40 years (notably Twice Shy, Shattered and Under Orders). Silks is their second full collaboration after Dead Heat, and should provides Francis aficionados with all the elements they've grown accustomed to. --Barry Forshaw


The master of suspense and intrigue (Country Life )

A triumphant return to Francis family form (The Daily Mail )

A tremendous read (Woman's Own )

Still the master (Racing Post )

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By bluecougar25 on 8 Dec 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been a Dick Francis fan for 25 years and have read and re-read everything he's written with glee and delight: even when the basic plots and what happened to the hero seem formulaic, the background research and the sparkling dialogue, and the quick way in which the author taught you about the new area of knowledge the book was dealing with always shone out against much less accomplished writers.

Sadly, the recent efforts lack that polish and clarity and Silks is even more longwinded than Dead Heat was. Perhaps some of the fault lies in the main character, a rather staid and straight-laced barrister who takes most of the book to be jolted out of his rather complacent life, but the dialogue seemed stilted, whole pages were devoted to complex backstory that previous books would have dashed off in a few succinct paragraphs, and overall I felt what was needed most was a good editor.

Once the story got going I did enjoy it, but getting to that point was a chore, no devouring page after page with gusto as in previous works.

Its great that Dick Francis is still writing, and I'm glad his son Felix is able to work with him but I suspect what we're really lacking here is the fine and sure touch of his wife Mary; it must be hard to change a writing team that had honed its skills to perfection. This is readable, and somewhat fun, but I hope the next book sees Dick and Felix getting into their stride.

Not one I'll be re-reading, sad to say and three stars mainly because even a poor Dick Francis is still a Dick Francis
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Webb on 13 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd had this book for a week before I had time to read it and was looking forward to it very much. I have all of his other books and have read them several times. It took a very long time for me to get into the book, Far to much legal waffle for me. The thing that upset me most was half way through a photo was found to be missing showing a dead girl with a foal. I recently read John Francome's Cover Up and I read on with dread that this book was going to follow the same story line, and it did. Surely someone involved with the production ot this book should have noticed the similarity, Cover Up was only published in 2005. I do hope He does better next time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. Mace on 7 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
Silks was one of those books I didn't want to put down! Dick Francis has the knack of describing the writer's feelings of fear and love together with excitement around the storyline. It was detailed regarding court procedures without being boring and taking one through a horse race as if on the back of the horse. His description of the injuries sustained in a fall, made one feel them personally! The life of a jockey is opened up for all to experience and literally feel!

The story kept me guessing about the outcome to the last page and cleverley involved a genuine fear for the main character's father.
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By Neutral VINE VOICE on 2 Mar 2009
Format: Hardcover
For over fifty years since he famously rode Devon Loch in the Grand National, Dick Francis has made a living out of writing stories about the horse racing world with which he is familiar. His familiarity with that world remains and, in this latest book, he attempts to weave a pattern with the world of lawyers or, more specifically barristers, who are commonly called silks.

The story is one of intrigue, sex and violence, a reflection of the changing world in which we live, although I'm not convinced a practicing barrister would have been intimidated the way Francis's character needed to be for the purposes of the story. Most of them are too arrogant.

The underlying storyline is simple. Geoffrey Mason is a defence barrister who loses a case and is threatened by his client (and entourage) when the conviction is overturned on appeal. Owing to the inbred world of racing there's an intricate series of sub-plots - including the usual love angle - and an unusual ending suggesting that lawyers also know how to work the system.

For someone whose books are so well researched I was surprised to see the inclusion of the Lincoln/Kennedy urban myth but, in terms of reasonable explanation of racing and legal backgrounds, it reached the usual high standards. However, I wasn't really convinced that anyone would be called, "Mr Barrister Man" by their love interest and, sadly, the language has deteriorated over time. In overall terms the book perhaps should carry the Crimewatch warning for readers not to have nightmares.

It was a good and easy read, not up to John Grisham perhaps, but indicative of the fact that the Francis family (second son Felix collaborated in the writing) may outlast the original author.
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Oct 2008
Format: Hardcover
The classic Dick Francis books are filled with heart-pounding steeplechase action, deadly criminals, and arcane insights into horse racing from a jockey's perspective. The least appealing books in the series are those where the interaction with steeplechases is minimal. Silks is somewhere between the two extremes. The steeplechase setting is present for bits and pieces of the story, but courtroom drama substitutes for much of the potential on-course action. Fortunately, the legal thriller aspects of the story are pretty well done and bring new perspective for American readers into the English legal system.

Geoffrey ("Perry" to his fellow jockeys) Mason is a barrister (a lawyer who tries cases in England) whose hobby is riding his horse, Sandeman, in mostly amateur steeplechases. As the book opens, he is defending an unsavory sort, Julian Trent, who seems to be a psychopath. Losing the case turns out to be a bad turn for Mason when Trent decides he wants revenge against his barrister.

A little time later, Trent has gotten out of jail through an appeal where the witnesses refuse to testify against him, apparently having been intimidated. Rather than immediately kill Mason, Trent instead seems more interested in controlling Mason's legal work for fellow jockey, Steve Mitchell, who is accused of murdering another jockey. Mason is thoroughly intimidated and unsure what he will do. The stakes are raised when the threats start to include those close to Mason.

The reference to silks is a very clever choice for a title, referring to racing silks as well as the term for Queen's Counsel, the cream of the litigating attorneys.
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