Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

I haven't read the last few books by the father and son pair. I think I started one and never got very far. I was slow to get into Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis also, but once hooked I had a hard time putting it down.

Like all of Dick Francis' books this one is centered around steeplechase racing. In this novel, Tom Forsyth who is a career army officer loses a foot in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. After months in the hospital he realizes that he has to face a future far different from the one he had planned. When Tom goes home to his mother's house and horse training stables, he discovers that his mother is in serious financial trouble and is being blackmailed.

Like all good Francis novels, the hero faces pain and death. He not only survives but Tom goes on to uncover the secrets behind his mother's problems. I particularly liked a paragraph at the beginning of the chapter when he finds himself bound and in darkness. "Whoever thought too much pain brought on unconsciousness was an idiot. My brain, now awake, clearly had no intention of switching off again. How much pain does it take to kill, I wondered. Surely it was time for me to die?" (Crossfire, p.179)

I have never been a soldier, have never been a hero, but I have woken from surgery without any medication to take the edge off the pain. Felix Francis has echoed my thoughts exactly. If he has not experienced the jarring pains of being a "jump jokey" like his father, he has certainly learned from his parent's tales of agony.

I like this book. It is up-to-date and deals with issues that many of us are aware of in our world around us, particularly if you have someone in your family who serves in the military. Computers, cell phones and war against terror are all part of our lives.

I wonder if Felix is going to continue to write under his own name and how he will do. He certainly has the ability to carry on his father's legacy, but will that be enough in the mystery writing world? I'll have to keep an eye on him.

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