Saturday, June 15, 2019

Book Review: Straight by Dick Francis

Author: Dick Francis
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons (February 7, 2006)

Description: In this mystery from New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis, a jockey becomes the sole inheritor of his late brother's business, horse, mistress, and enemies.

Steeplechase jockey Derek Franklin has had more broken bones than he cares to count, but it seems his latest injury could very well bring his days on the race course to a screeching halt. But that’s the least of his concerns when his brother turns up dead, leaving Derek as the sole inheritor of his estate.

It doesn’t take long for Derek to learn that his brother—a magistrate who imported and sold semiprecious stones—was keeping more than his share of secrets. Now Derek must recover $1.5 million worth of missing diamonds—and find out who wanted his brother dead—or else his career won’t be the only thing in danger of being cut short...

My Thoughts: Champion steeplechase jockey Derek Franklin is nursing a broken ankle caused by a fall and an encounter with a horse's hoof when he receives a call that his much older brother Greville was in hospital after some scaffolding fell on him in Ipswich.

Derek and Greville had reconnected only a few years earlier. The nineteen year age gap was difficult for them to overcome until Derek became an adult himself. Recently, though, they had been meeting for occasional dinners and exchanging occasional phone calls. Derek rushes to Ipswich to be present when Greville passes away. Then he has to try to settle the affairs of a man who was known for keeping secrets.

Greville was a gem merchant with his own firm. Derek has inherited it and all of his other property including his two race horses. When he learns that his brother had purchased a number of diamonds for a famed jeweler, all of the employees at the firm are surprised. The firm didn't deal in diamonds. Worse yet, the diamonds are missing and the loan payment for them is coming due.

The racehorses are also a problem. They are kept with noted trainer Nicholas Loder. But Derek as a jockey can't own racehorses. Derek gets bad vibes from Loder when he phones him to discuss the horses. Loder is angry and also frightened.

This gives Derek two different mysteries to solve and someone doesn't want him to solve either of them. Besides an attack when he is leaving the hospital after his brother's death, he also has to deal with break-ins at the business and at Greville's home. Then there is the car accident when the man chauffeuring Derek and a couple of horse owners from a race. The driver is killed and it as a near thing for Derek who is trapped in the car.

The story was fast-paced and entertaining. Derek was a wonderful character who is bright and observant and out of his depth trying to run his brother's business. Like many of Dick Francis's characters, he is an honorable and bright man dropped into a difficult situation.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't forgive it. Or forget. But after wars, enemies trade." It always happened, I thought, though cynics might mock. Mutual benefit was the most powerful of bridge-builders, even if the heart remained bitter. "We'll see how we go," I said again.
I bought this one in hardcover when it was released and in Kindle copy when it was a recent Kindle Deal. You can buy your copy here.

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