The final furlong – farewell to Dick Francis

World War II pilot, champion jockey and internationally bestselling author, Dick Francis CBE has died today aged 89 at his home on the Cayman Islands.

The recurring theme of his many mystery thrillers was of course racing, and first out of the starting gates was Dead cert published in 1962. Publishing a novel a year, Francis employed a variety of  main characters. Sid Halley appeared in several titles, as did Kit Fielding, and his leading men all shared similar character traits: solitary, physically and mentally tough, resourceful and attractive to women, Francis’s heroes strive to win but not at any cost. Decency, responsibilty,  justice and fair play are central themes in all Francis’s 41 racey-pacey titles.

Unusually in 1999 his publishers acknowledged the important creative input of Francis’s wife Mary, previously she had been credited just with draft reading and editing his work, and after Mary’s death in 2000 Francis’s son Felix came on board as co-author. 

Regardless of writing roles, together the Francis family made the racing world come alive.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I’m definitely a dog person.  I haven’t got anything against cats, it’s just that dogs really appreciate your attention and are incredibly loyal (especially my Labradoodle, Sonni).  I came across Garth Stein’s book The Art of Racing in the Rain about a year ago while I was perusing the new books and immediately fell in love with it.  I just noticed it on the shelves yesterday and I enjoyed it so much that I have to tell everyone about it.  It’s unique for an adult’s book to be told from the point of view of a dog but Stein really pulls it off.  The story follows Enzo from birth to the end of his long life, with Enzo narrating the story.  Through his eyes we see the trials and tribulations of his masters and at times the story gets pretty sad but you just know that everything will be alright because they have Enzo to help them through.  I major strand of the book is about automobile racing, of which I knew very little about when I started the book, but it didn’t change my enjoyment of the story and actually helped to keep the story moving along. 

The story goes full circle and I’m sure you can guess how it ends, but it leaves you feeling proud of Enzo and sad that his story has come to an end.  Enzo and his family have stuck with me and I’m sure you’ll find it hard to leave them behind too.