Dick Francis


"...you can’t help feeling that it is all ‘jolly good fun’ despite the use of shotguns.."


Captain Thomas Forsyth is badly injured during a tour of Afghanistan, half of his leg blown off by an explosion. After six months of recuperation his only shelter is at Lambourn: his mother's house. Josephine Kauri is the 'first lady' of racing and she has never seen eye to eye with her only child. She seems to have more affection with her thoroughbreds. Feeling decidedly unwelcome by his mother and stepfather, Thomas begins to unravel a few 'home truths'. Why are his mothers horses loosing easy races when they are 'dead certs' to win? Why is his mother skittish when it comes to money?

As Thomas finally gets the truth from her, he uncovers a deadly trail of blackmail and extortion that runs into the millions. As he begins to find out who has their claws in his mother, Thomas realises that he will need to gather all his Army training to survive some very nasty people who will stop at nothing to keep their scam secret.

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You know when you crack open a Dick Francis book that you are about to enter an adults version of the Famous Five or Secret Seven. The goodies and the baddies are easily delineated and easily spotted. As always, the action deals with the horse racing world and if this was to be true in real life, then the people who mingle in these circles seem to be a very unruly bunch indeed. Despite trying to get a sense of menace going, you can't help feeling that it is all 'jolly good fun' despite the use of shotguns, etc. As most of the unpleasantness is remote, you don't really get a feel for the perpetrators of this crime until near the very end of the book. You can see that with regard to the Army training, Felix Francis has certainly done his homework. 'Crossfire' isn't the best Francis I have ever read, before or since this collaboration, but it is still a rollicking good romp and one that should sate any crime readers' appetite on a wet winter's afternoon.

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