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