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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Dick Francis (1920 - )

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Please consider recommending where to begin reading this author, or where not to. A few words about your experiences reading this author and why you make the recommendations you do will be helpful to other users. If you are the author or have studied this author extensively, please say so.

wkwillis1 February 3rd, 2006 09:49 PM PST

I recommend "Reflex". As in all his (and his wife, Mary's) works, his subject is involved in racing in some way. Probably because Dick Francis was Queen's Jockey at one point.
The protagonist is a jockey whose hobby is photography. He stumbles on a cache of photographic clues left behind by a murdered blackmailing photographer.
He has to find out who the murderer is because the murderer knows he has somehow come in to the possession of the blackmailer's files and is gunning for him.
The back story of the jockey is done to a high standard and is more interesting than the rest of the book, and Dick Francis writes interesting books to start with.

spadinasaur September 1st, 2006 08:33 AM PST

I have read every Francis novel, with the possible exception of the last one or two. The best one is "For Kicks" (1965). Terrific plot, fabulous romance. If I could ever live out the fantasy of directing a movie, this would be it. I was in the UK once, staying in a youth hostel, when I met a young English guy. He agreed that he enjoyed Francis and, without prompting, stated that "For Kicks" was his favourite as well.

The novels are all enjoyable, up until the ones published in the mid-1980's. (All the novels are set in the world of British steeplechase racing, but you don't have to know anything about horses or racing to enjoy them.) "The Danger" (1984) is good, but after that the quality diminishes. I have found some of the recent ones quite poor.

The best way to read Francis is to start from the beginning, with "Dert Cert" (1962). You will get to "For Kicks" within a short time. Given my belief that the quality of the novels gradually diminishes over time, you can simply read them in order until you tire of them.

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