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on 11 May 2017
An exciting read though far fetched in places with unlikely events falling into place it was compelling reading and I'm looking forward to reading another book by the same author.
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on 25 June 2017
Exciting read
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on 6 May 2001
I have just read this book back-to-back with another Dick Francis written more than 30 years later, and I can honestly say that with one minor exception, this one seemed as fresh as the more recent book. (The one exception being the hero's courtship of his girlfriend, which seems strangely formal by modern standards.)
The central story, the mystery of who killed a leading jockey and why, is compelling and I didn't guess the villain until he was confronted. Along the way, the hero tangles with a protection racket and escapes a gang of murderous pursuers in a dramatic way, taking advantage of the fact that he's riding a top steeplechaser - but perhaps his greatest challenge is a weekend in an upper-class household...
Try reading this alongside one of his more recent works and see what YOU think...
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on 14 June 2013
Three jockeys were warned not to win their races, someone wanted good riders turned into also-rans. Bill died when the sure-footed Admiral fell, Joe was scared rotten, and Alan York became the prime target of a vicious gang. But Alan wanted revenge, and to hell with the danger.

I have seen and heard of this author for many years before finally deciding to give him a try. I read and enjoyed Forfeit last month and having picked up a few of his books recently decided to try his first published novel from 1962 next.
At 180-odd pages long it was a fairly quick read. Sufficient length for the author to develop his characters into more than stick people, but not over-long like so many of the books published today.
Alan York is our main man here. Rhodesian by birth, Alan's a part-time amateur jockey in addition to looking after his father's business from London a couple of days a week. Alan is trailing his best friend Bill Davidson during a steeplechase race, when disaster strikes the leading horse and jockey. Davidson suffers a bad fall, incurring fatal injuries after his horse landed on him. York having witnessed the accident is sufficiently disturbed to re-visit the fence where the incident took place. Hidden in the fence is a coil of wire which has been used to bring Davidson and Admiral, his odds-on favourite mount down. Unable to attract assistance that evening, York returns to the course the next day with a policeman in tow, but the evidence has disappeared.
After the inquest where York's insistence of foul-play is dismissed and an accidental verdict returned, Alan decides to investigate who is responsible for his friend's death. Whilst talking in the weighing room to other jockeys, it's apparent that someone is trying to stop several nailed-on horses from winning their races in order to profit. As the plot quickly unfolds, Alan is threatened and warned off by the gang responsible for the race-fixing, which is in addition to a protection racket they have been operating in Brighton. There's a bit of a love interest introduced, which also links in to the eventual unmasking of the head honcho controlling the criminal gang.
Short, sharp, concise, with a few twists and turns before the identity of the culprit was revealed.It's unlikely that I will find myself thinking about this book much in the weeks ahead, but for all that I really enjoyed it. A fairly straight-forward thriller-cum-crime-novel (can someone explain to me the difference?), interesting and likeable main character, believable plot and all ends properly tied-up at the conclusion. Verdict - nothing to complain about.
4 from 5
I acquired my omnibus edition of 3 early Dick Francis books a month or two ago from a seller on e-bay.
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on 18 May 2017
'Dead Cert'. A dastardly act achieves its purpose, however, it goes tragically wrong, there is a fatality. The following eagle-eyed protagonist (Alan York: jockey), in a fleeting moment, realizes how this act was brought about. The victim was his best friend and he intends to find out who was behind this abominable act. Because of his activity as an amateur sleuth, he receives many threats and numerous injuries....It is a riveting story and keeps you enthralled throughout.
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2010
The book: Alan York, jockey, sees his friend take a bad fall during a steeplechase race - and discovers it was no accident. When he starts looking into the *why*, he gets warned off; which, in true Francis style, only makes him look harder. A delectable love interest, a range of co-jockeys, taxi rides and horse-riding across the South Downs all come into their own in a tense thriller...

The author: Dick Francis flew airplanes in the 2nd World War (because the cavalry didn't want him!) and then turned jockey; he was champion jockey, and rode for the Queen Mother. After giving up professional riding he turned to writing thrillers, and this was his first published one, from 1962. Another 40-odd would follow.

My opinion: early writing, not as polished as some of his later ones, but a right cracker all the same. Good on racing, of course, but also on the small details of the changing room, the trainer, the other jockeys; and very good on tension, reaction to violence, feelings of love (yay, romance!) and children playing poker. A promise of many good books to come; and a good book in its own right.
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on 12 September 2010
This was the first novel which Dick Francis wrote - and it shows, especially in some of the dialogue. Nevertheless the plot is good and characters well drawn.
The love interest is rather dated and a bit stilted especially compared to some of his later books.
I guess it was of its time - 1962, when society were somewhat different from today. Still an enjoyable read.
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VINE VOICEon 22 December 2012
I have been a fan of Dick Francis for over 20 years and picked this as I had never read it and didn't realise it was his first book.

It has all that is great about Dick's books, intrigue from both within and outside of the Racing Community, beautiful women and a twist in the tail.

Alan York, an amatur jockey sees his closest friend fall moments from winning a race and is the only who suspects foul play after seeing a coil of wire where it shouldn't be. Alan starts to investigate the supposed accident and finds himself in the middle of the Brighton underworld and racing for his life...

As fast paced as any horse race, this will keep you gripped to the end.
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on 4 March 2013
Another brilliant book by Dick Francis he is the master of mystery books. All his themes are to do with horse racing or the sport - but once you start reading you can't put them down until you have finished.
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on 9 May 2013
A thrilling book from start to finish.
Anyone who loves the world of horse racing will enjoy Dick Francis' books.
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