Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dick Francis - 1920-2010

Well this seems to be a bad year for mystery writers. First Robert Parker (one of my favorites) and now Dick Francis. This is truly sad.

Let me introduce you to Dick Francis, if by chance , you do not know him. Richard Stanley Francis, aka Dick Francis, was born in Wales in 1920 and was, by trade, a “champion jockey for the British royal family.” In 1957 he was forced to retire from racing due to a serious fall. It was then that he turned to his second career – that of writing detective fiction. But he did not leave horse racing behind. Unlike Robert Parker, Francis did not have a series hero (like Spenser) that kept reappearing, but he had a series theme and a character type that appeared in all of his books. The theme was – guess what – horses and horse racing. But you DO NOT have to like horses or racing to enjoy his books. In fact, a reviewer from the New York Times was quoted as saying, "Not to read Dick Francis because you don't like horses is like not reading Dostoyevsky because you don't like God."

And truth be told, our hero was not always a jockey. In the Frame is about an artist who paints horses; Whip Hand is about an ex-jockey turned detective; Proof is about a wine merchant who caters many affairs for folks involved in horse racing.

Lately Dick Francis has been co-writing books with his son, Felix Francis. Please see blog post of August 3, 2009 entitled Dick and Felix – the Odd Couple? for more details and book recommendations.

[Read an obituary for Dick Francis from the Washington Post. View a list of all of Dick Francis' books.] Meg



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