Sunday, February 14, 2010

Francis’ Finish Line

I don’t have anything profound to add to reports that champion British jockey-turned-novelist Dick Francis died today at his home in the Cayman Islands. He was 89 years old.

My introduction to Francis came in reading Whip Hand (1979), his second novel to feature crippled ex-jockey and current private eye Sid Halley. I then went back and read Halley’s opening adventure, in Odds Against (1965), and have since enjoyed the character’s third and fourth outings (in Come to Grief [1995] and Under Orders [2006]), along with a bookshelf-full of Francis’ standalone horse-racing-related thrillers. Francis penned more than 40 novels over the last half century, including 2009’s Even Money. Almost all of those were produced with the astute aid of his wife of 53 years, Mary, though the most recently published three were co-credited to his younger son, Felix. What may well be their final work, Crossfire, is due out from Putnam in late August of this year.

The Guardian’s obituary can be found here, with the Telegraph’s own available here. Sarah Weinman has a wrap-up of tributes and Francis-related news in her own blog.


Anonymous said...

I've read many of his books. And I discovered him earlier on too. What a great series character - Sid Halley. Francis was a great writer whose books I will revisit often.

RJR said...

My first Francis was thge first one, DEAD CERT, but my favorites have always been NERVE and FORFEIT.


maria said...

sad day in the literary world,i'm still reeling from the death of robert b. parker and now favorites are the sid halley series esp. Come To Grief.