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on 5 April 2017
Another gem from the pen of Dick Francis. Thoroughly enjoyable. The kind of book that is hard to put down.
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on 18 March 2017
I don't know how many times I've read this book but I have enjoyed it as much as when I first read it
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on 3 April 2017
An unstoppable read as Dick Francis so often is. Ending pretty drawn out but breathtaking all the same. Highly recommend.
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on 4 August 2017
Again, usual Francis quality read
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on 18 March 2017
This was the first Dick Francis book I read from a book club in the sixties,still has me totally hooked.
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(one in a series of Dick Francis reviews in which I try and separate all those rather similar titles, and in which I try not to give away plotlines)

The book: Henry Grey is in horse transporting - by air. Because he is a toff the other staff make his life tough - but is that the only reason, or are they trying to distract his attention? When Henry begins looking closer at horses flying to and from the USA and Italy, more trouble ensues. But there is also a handsome Italian girl to distract him... and help him in his investigations into the how, the why, and the who.

The writer:
Dick Francis flew various planes in World War II (a fact that must have inspired some exciting flying scenes in this book!) and was a professional jockey afterwards; he was Champion Jockey, but hung up his professional books and turned to writing thrillers. He died in 2010. This was his fifth thriller, from 1966.

My opinion: one of his best - and that is saying something! Beautiful, taut writing, with believable characters, brilliantly sustained tension, and a love story to blow you out of your socks.
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on 1 July 2017
In this Dick Francis novel the protagonist is an amateur jockey. However, unlike most of Francis's novels, our hero spends very little time on horseback, and racing constitutes a very minor part of the story. Henry Grey is heir to a British title but would prefer not to be. The last child and the only son in his family, he was largely ignored as a child and developed into something of a loner with few social skills. He's happiest when he's piloting a small rented plane on his days off, alone in the skies over Britain.

Like many of Britain's noble families, Henry's has fallen on hard times financially. The massive family home is ancient and falling into disrepair. His parents and elder sisters expect Henry to do the right thing and marry some wealthy heiress who will bail out the family, but Henry wants no part of it and constantly avoids the young women that his mother keeps throwing at him.

He works in an office that arranges for the transportation of racing horses to countries near and far, but he's bored with that and so takes a job on the planes that actually fly the horses from one destination to another. The man who owns the company humors Henry by giving him the job, but he's sure that the titled nobleman won't stick it out for very long.

Obviously, though, the employer has never read a Dick Francis novel and doesn't know the kind of man he's really dealing with here. Like most Francis protagonists, Henry Grey is a quiet but very intelligent and capable man. He's also very determined and once he sets his mind to something, it's virtually impossible to change his course. Before long, Henry will discover that something very odd is going on in the horse transport business, and his discovery could well cost him his life.

Like most Dick Francis novels, this one is well-plotted and moves along at a brisk pace. The climax is riveting and if I have any reservations it's only because Henry Grey is not quite as interesting as the protagonists in most of the other books. Still, I enjoyed the book, and I'm sure that most Dick Francis fans will as well.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2010
Lord Henry Gray is a reluctant aristocrat, holiding down a desk job at a the Anglia Bloodstock Agency, much to his family's disapproval, and dodging his mother's efforts at marrying him off for money escaping to his true passions as an amateur jockey and pilot. When he tires of the desk job and takes on a job as head groom for Yardman's equine transport business he becomes involved with a shady world of smuggling, and meets the beautiful Gabriella in Milan
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on 6 February 2004
This great novel can be read as a straightforward thriller with plenty of excitement, an unusual hero, a really unpleasant and thoroughly believable villain, and a finish of rare suspense. The writing is taught, economical and draws you into the story so that you feel completely involved with it.
But two elements make it much more than just a thriller. The love story running through all the blood and thunder is among the most touching I've ever read. And, as in all Dick Francis' books, the underlying theme is the triumph of the human spirit over evil and disaster, written without schmulz or overpainting. I've read all his thrillers more than once, and this is my top favourite.
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on 26 March 2014
A huge fan of Dick Francis, I first read this in my teens and I recently revisited this book. This is still a terrific read, with 2 very specific excellent parts. First the description of how the two protagonists falling in love is extremely moving. It's short but effective. Second the ending - the tension is sustained for what seems like forever. The description is probably Francis's best writing ever.

A thoroughly diverting read which is up there with the best of thrillers and the best of Francis's work.
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