A colorless lead and a tacked-on romantic subplot mar Francis’s unmemorable eighth novel set in the English horse racing world chronicled by his father (after 2017’s Pulse). Small-town lawyer Harry Foster gets a new lease on life when he lands a position with Simpson White Consultancy, a crisis management firm. Despite Foster’s complete ignorance about horses, he’s dispatched to Newmarket to represent the interests of Sheikh Ahmed Karim, a charismatic Arab king who has “made lasting peace” in the Middle East. The sheikh’s prize horse, Prince of Troy, who was expected to easily win the Derby, died in a fire that also killed six other colts. Foster is charged with ascertaining whether the blaze was accidental or arson, a task that becomes trickier when the body of an unidentified woman, who was dead before the fire started, is found in the stables where the animals were housed. The lawyer’s efforts aren’t appreciated by either the police or members of the dysfunctional Chadwick family, who were responsible for training and caring for Prince of Troy. The clichéd denouement lacks the younger Francis’s usual inventiveness. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Ed Wilson, Johnson & Alcock (U.K.). (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018 Release date: 10/09/2018 Genre: Fiction
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