Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I am afraid I have been grumbling a lot here recently along the "Nothing good can happen until I do my work" lines--but as a lesson that this is not true, I received a delightful e-mail a few days ago from a person who knows me well....

The text:

Jenny - a UK edition of the new Dick Francis (really written by Felix, his name's now on the cover!) just arrived. If you've not ordered a copy already then this one can be yours. Let me know....

And I had NOT ordered one (or indeed even known one was coming) and it DID become mine, and I have just finished reading it, and I am happy...

(The name Dick Francis appears comically frequently at Light Reading... See, for instance, item number six on this list.)

In a sense, you read these novels for the faint hint of the flavor the author's books gave you when he was in his heyday--if you have never read Dick Francis, you are perhaps (hmmm, strictly speaking that should read "undoubtedly"--but I have been borrowing a habit from Austen's narrators of using "perhaps" as a polite but steely way of asserting a true thing!) better off with one of the classic early ones. For real Dick Francisish pleasure, I read Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels; and for sublime-what-Dick-Francis-would-be-if-his-brain-was-taken-over- by-the-best-novelist-of-all-time, it's definitely Peter Temple. And yet really the thought of a new Dick Francis novel makes me smile! Here's the Amazon link for it, it's called Dead Heat--and I am certainly going to pass this copy on to my mother, because (a) she was such a good sport, she let me skip school for the day when I was in seventh grade so that I could go and get a book signed by Dick Francis during his appearance at a store in downtown Philadelphia (as per that list item I linked to above) and (b) the love interest in this one is a viola player, as is my mom--and the parts about music are COMICAL!


  1. Of course--can't resist, although I agree with you abt the early vs. the late. Nerve, for instance: I love it.

  2. I think Nerve is possibly the single best one--I had a long post early in the days of this blog ranking them in order! Forfeit, In the Frame, Reflex--those are all favorites of mine--the first couple Sid Halley ones are very good too...

  3. Loved Nerve. Have a softer spot for Banker and Twice Shy than you seem to. Maybe I skipped it, but did I miss discussion of the hilarious descriptions of what constitutes an attractive/well-dressed woman? Ton of make-up, heavy perfume, frilly skirts, crazy ruffles, chunks of gold. Sooper-dooper-eighties-tastic.

  4. I was going to ask you to recommend where to start with Francis, but I see you've already done it -- sounds like Nerve, Forfeit, etc., will do the trick.

  5. Here was the link to my ranked list:


    And here's the top part of the list:

    The great classic DF novels, pretty much unbeatable (these heros get beaten up left and right, and the language describing their pain is entrancingly lowkey…--the first two here are both spectacular, leading up to the geniusy Odds Against, and the last two not quite as good but still very enjoyable):

    *NERVE 1964 Rob Finn
    **FOR KICKS 1965 Daniel Roke
    **ODDS AGAINST 1965 Sid Halley
    *FORFEIT 1968 James Tyrone
    ENQUIRY 1969 Kelly Hughes

    But really other than perhaps the last 4-5 or so they are all quite delightfully enjoyable..

    (I think I must have pasted in that list from somewhere, otherwise I do not know why I have the protagonists' names!)