November 13, 2006

Dick Francis's new book

I just finished reading Dick Francis's new book Under Orders. It's his first book in six years, and there's some rust showing. It features Sid Halley, who first turned up in Odds Against, moved on to Whip Hand and reappeared in Come to Grief.

Sid, of course, is a former champion jockey whose hand injury (picture a horseshoe worn to knife-edge thinness landing directly on your palm at thirty miles per hour) has forced him to find other employment. The first novel told the story of his developing an unexpected skill at investigative work; the second is a bit more of a character study of Sid and his self-worth. The third is...well, I'm not sure what the third is.

Anyway, I'd have bought this just because it's a new Francis book. I wasn't entirely disappointed; Sid has gotten more interesting and more human, and the crime's just as racing-related as ever, but something didn't quite click for me. I kept seeing little one-word injections of Sid's thought processes ("Wow!" after he's learned something) which were never in the previous books, and they didn't ring true.

If you're a Francis fan, you'll be able to get past all that and enjoy it, but if you're coming to Francis for the first time, I'd send you to Rat Race, Nerve, or Break In.

All of Francis's books can be read as stand-alones, so don't fear you'll get hooked into a series.

Posted by Linkmeister at November 13, 2006 02:06 PM | TrackBack

I honestly don't remeber which one I picked up, but I didn't make it past the 1/3 mark. I give every novel I pick up, a chance - up to about 1/3 of the way through. If it hasn't done it for me by then, I quit. Usually, that is an authors last chance, if it happens in the first one I read. The only exceptions I make to that are if it is a very early novel and has been recommended by a friend, or if another novel by said author is reccomended by three or more friends, whose taste I trust. You are the first to recommend Francis - we'll see if anyone else pops up. The other problem that Francis has with making it back on my reading list is that he has been recommended by a friend whose tastes I most decidedly do not trust.

I am currently working my way through Frank Herberts Dune novels - it's been nearly two years since I last read them. I always find they inspire interesting ideas, ideas that sometimes translate themselves into words on a page or in songs. Since I have been in a musical mood lately, a song has already sprung forth - at least in part.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 13, 2006 07:53 PM