Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guest blog - Reflex by Dick Francis

I thought that I had read all of the mysteries written by Dick Francis. However, I picked up a novel at the local thrift store for only 50 cents and soon discovered that it was a new story to me.

Reflex has all of the elements of a Francis novel. Philip Nore is a jump jockey as Francis was in his own life. That makes him medium height but still constantly watching his weight so that he is not too heavy to ride. Steeplechase jockeys ride on courses about two miles long and encounter ditches, fences and hedges along the way. In all of the Francis novels I have read, steeplechasing is described as a dangerous sport. It is not uncommon for rider and horse to come down after misjudging a gate and subsequently be trodden on by the horses following. This by itself makes for a tough hero well acquainted with pain. Usually in a Dick Francis mystery the ability to endure pain pays off because each hero is at some point beaten by the bad guys. However, unlike a few writers I have read, Francis always has a satisfactory ending. And I am definitely addicted to the just if not legal ending for a mystery.

In this story the death of a photographer happens before the story opens. It is not until you are well into the novel that it becomes apparent that the death was not an accident. Philip Nore becomes entangled in clues left behind by the photographer and soon finds himself in danger. Of course, there is a sprinkling of romance as well. This is an older novel written when I think that Francis was at the height of his career. Definitely an enjoyable tale.

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