Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Blog - Silks

The latest novel by Dick Francis and his son Felix is called Silks. Geoffrey Mason, the protagonist of the story, is a barrister in successful chambers in London. He hopes that one day he will ‘take silk’ and become a Queen’s Counsel. In his free time he rides in horse races as an amateur jump jockey wearing jockey silks.

The story begins in November of 2008 as Mason is defending Julian Trent who is accused of beating a man and his family with a baseball bat. Although he is convicted, he is soon out of prison. The prosecution’s attorney is found to have been involved in jury tampering and a mistrial is called. None of the previous witnesses are willing to testify against Trent in a second trial. And before he knows it, Mason is confronted by Trent swinging his baseball bat.

When top jockey Scot Barlow is killed by a pitch fork belonging to another jockey Steve Mitchell, Mason starts getting mysterious telephone calls telling him to be a ‘good little lawyer’ and take the case and ensure that Mitchell is convicted.

The story revolves around Mason’s struggle to fight for justice against a back drop of violence and intimidation. Mason soon finds that not only is he being threatened but his father and a new love interest are also in danger.

I’ve been a Dick Francis fan for years and owe all of my knowledge of racing and particularly jump racing to reading his mysteries. I picked up the book ready to be entertained but I was really puzzled by the dating in this new novel. The book was released last spring but the story begins in November 2008 and ends in May 2009. Why was the story placed in the future? Not until the final chapter does the reader discover that the solution to the mystery centers on a historical event that we are all familiar with; therefore, the manipulation of time in the novel. The story had to take place in the future.

Francis father and son did not disappoint me. I liked the main character and although I soon realized that one piece of information was key to the solution, I still was surprised by the ending. I hope that there will be another Dick and Felix Francis again next spring.

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