Dick Francis– Under Orders

Dick Francis– Under Orders

This is first Dick Francis novel written since the death of his wife Mary in 2000 and it is a welcome return.

After writing a novel every year from 1962 until 2000 rumours began that in fact his wife Mary was the one who had written the books. The rumors began with the publication of Dick Francis: A Racing Life by Graham Lord. I've not read Lord's book but I must admit that rumours are powerful things, especially when they are about something or someone close or important to you. I found myself seriously wondering if I'd been tricked all this time. Consequently I felt no small amount of trepidation about picking it up.

In preparation for reading it I read some other reviews (something I almost never do) and paid particular attention to people who had said they agreed with Graham Lord and noted their particular observations in this vein. As further preparation I read Enquiry and High Stakes, so that I could (unscientifically) compare the writing style and turn of phrase and decide whether there was any substance in what some people had been saying.

Unfortunately this initially reduced my enjoyment of the book as I was looking for clues that it might not be the same author. It didn't take long though before I was convinced that this was unquestionably the work of the same person or to put it another way this was a "Dick Francis book" written by Dick Francis himself.

Now that the Dick Francis shaped elephant in the room has been taken care of I can briefly discuss the book itself.

"Under Orders" ses the return of Sid Halley, the one handed detective and hero of three previous Francis novels (Bone Crack, Whip Hand and Comeback) and he's up to his old tricks: investigating racing corruption, solving murders and getting beaten up.

It's a good read and will be enjoyed by Francis fans and newcomers to his writing; if you are a newcomer though, reading the other Sid Halley novels first will help you appreciate the subtle refences and more deeply understand some of the story elements.

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