Dick Francis's Gamble

Felix Francis, Author
Felix Francis. Putnam, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-15747-9
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Francis, having coauthored four horse-racing thrillers (Crossfire, etc.) with dad Dick Francis (1920–2010), proves himself more than capable of carrying on the family legacy alone. Shortly before the start of the Grand National, "one of the world's greatest sporting events," Nicholas Foxton, a financial adviser and former jockey, is standing next to Herb Kovak, who works for the same London financial services firm, when a gunman executes Kovak and escapes into the crowd of spectators. The police, who cancel the race, are irked that Foxton can't meaningfully describe the assassin. Later, Foxton finds a threatening note in the pocket of Kovak's coat that may provide a clue to the crime's motive. Foxton, who retired from the turf after breaking his neck in a race, can't resist playing detective, especially after he discovers that Kovak designated him as executor of his estate. While the ending will strike many readers as predictable, Francis shares his father's gift for brisk storytelling—and for creating a sympathetic, wounded, but determined hero. (July 26)
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