Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Audiobook Review: Banker by Dick Francis


Dick Francis
Narrator: Simon Prebble
Publication: Recorded Books (July 11, 2011)
Length: 9 hours and 59 minutes

Description: An investment banker arranges the purchase of a champion racehorse and gets caught up in murder in this New York Times bestseller that’s “fraught with violence, conspiracy and, of course, horses” (The Boston Globe).

Tim Ekaterin raised millions of dollars to finance the purchase of Sandcastle, a champion racer, only to discover an apparent defect in the horse. Investigating further, Ekaterin learns that the business of investment banking is nothing compared to the cutthroat world of horseracing—a world where violence and murder only raise the stakes....

My Thoughts: Written in 1982, this was an excellent thriller. Tim Ekaterin is an investment banker in the firm begun by his grandfather. He was raised by parents more interested in partying than banking. After his father's death, his mother's gambling habit drove the family into bankruptcy. His uncle agrees to bail his mother out if Tim works for the bank.

Not expecting much more than to fulfill his agreement with his uncle, Tim finds that he has the talent to be an excellent merchant banker. He is happy learning under his mentor Gordon and being quietly in love with Gordon's wife. 

When Gordon goes through a medication issue in his treatment for Parkinson's Disease, Tim takes over for him until he is ready to come back. During his time as head, he convinces his firm to lend money to a young cartoonist that several other banks have turned down. The cartoonist's quick and major success not only gives Tim confidence in his judgment but gives him the reputation as a lucky man.

An outing with the Chairman and Gordon and his wife Juliet to the horse races brings a new opportunity to Tim and the bank. Tim sees Sandcastle win a stunning victory and also meets and saves the life of a faith healer whose patients are horses. 

When a trainer comes to Tim to ask for financing to purchase Sandcastle to put him to stud, Tim convinces the bank to come up with the eight million that are needed. Tim spends time at the breeding farm and meets the owner's young daughter. He becomes friends during his frequent visits. 

When the owner calls some time later, he has a problem. It seems that Sandcastle's foals are showing a much higher than average number of birth defects. Sandcastle's problems as a stud threaten to not only bankrupt the trainer but cause a substantial loss for the bank too. 

Tim has only a short period of time to figure out if the problem is with Sandcastle or if someone is manipulating things for their own purposes. And when the trainer's young daughter is murdered the stakes go even higher. 

This was an excellent story. Tim is a wonderful main character who is both smart and honorable. The prose isn't flowery, but the emotional intensity is there. Simon Prebble did a wonderful job of bringing Tim Ekaterin to life. 

I got this one from Audible Plus. You can buy your copy here.

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