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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 October 2005
A fine thriller, craftsmanly done, with Francis's usual amount of twists and a wealth of brief but strong characterisations. I realise this can be said about nearly all of his novels, but "High Stakes" stands out through the central character's unusual background -he's a toy-designer- and his astute perceptions of the racing world through the eyes of someone who's not part of it. Horses actually come under 'also ran...' on this occasion, in a novel focussed on human interaction, emotion and intrigue more than anything else.
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Plot synopsis: Horse owner Stephen Scott (grown rich though designing toys) ditches his trainer, for fixing races in cahoots with his bookie. The papers and the public turn against him for firing such a nice man. The underdog Scott develops some strange friendships, and there is a lovely romance, too.

Expertly written and with vivid real-life characters, this must be one of Dick Francis' best, ranking up there with the Sid Halley stories. And believe me, thrillers don't get better than that! Francis writes very well, the dialogue is believable, the characters are three-dimensional and believable. These books are as taut as they come, with nary a spare word, and very well-done drawn-out tension scenes. There are some good bits, too, about interaction with horses; th different types of trainers; and the class hierarchy, including the short-cuts in between.
These books are perfect fodder for when you're ill or sorry for yourself: the philosophy is take what comes, and deal with it. There is nothing to beat a good Francis, and this is as good as they come.
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on 20 March 2014
Really enjoyed this book - another rattling good yarn. I've read it several times and enjoyed it every time.

My only complaint (with regard to the Kindle edition) is the typographical errors. I don't know how these books are transformed from paper to digital, but the result is some very odd words at intervals throughout the book. If it hadn't been such a good story, it would have put me off reading it. This fault applies to all the Dick Francis books in Kindle format - I am working my way through them all.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2010
Trainer Jody Leeds, father Quintin Leeds, Jockey Club member, is fleecing owner Steven Scott, when his horse Energise wins unexpectedly Steven is sure of his trainer's guilt and complicity with Ganser Mays, bookmaker in ringing (subsitituting identical horses, 'dead ringers', for the horses supposed to be running). Steven has made a fortune making beautiful toys. Friend is Charlie Canterfield, merchant banker. Steven has workshop in house and assistant come butler is Owen Idris. Love interest beautiful intelligent American Alexandra Ward (Allie). Steven realises Engerise has been swopped and decides to get him back, gets badly beaten but gets Energise back with a ringer scam of his own.
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on 20 April 2016
Although first published in 1975 the storyline is as entertaining as it was when I first read it all those years ago, a determined young man determined to right a wrong wrought on him, of course he is assisted with of an irresistible bunch of unusual allies and with a touch of romance thrown in, brilliant.
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on 22 September 2010
Again Dick Francis comes up with new and interesting characters. How he comes up with the background and depth to his characters never ceases to amaze me. This book is about a race horse owner who is a toy maker by trade. He owns a number of race horses and finds out his trainer has been defrauding him. He seeks retribution but this never works out as clean as he imagines. As always with Dick Francis the characters have depth and character traits that we can relate to. In addition most of his characters have courage and strength that most of us would aspire to!
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on 6 April 2013
Yet again another thrilling novel by this ex champion jockey. I was riveted from start to finish.
I would recommend it to anyone with a love of horseracing.
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on 12 April 2016
I like all the Dick Francis books. You know he will get beaten up, meet a wonderful girl, investigate a crime. All predictable but well written.
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on 1 March 2015
Fairly predictable ending but a good read and typical page turner, can't really fault it - does exactly what it says on the tin
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on 12 February 2014
Had to buy a new copy as I had lost the original one. Really good story, with a few clever twists and turns.
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