Ned Talbot is a small-time bookmaker on the edge of giving it all up when his world is turned upside down by a man who claims to be his father, long thought dead. And when the mysterious stranger is murdered, Ned feels compelled to find out exactly what is going on. But the more he discovers, the longer the odds become for his survival.From the Paperback edition.
On the first day of Royal Ascot, the world's most famous horse race, the crowd rejoices in a string of winning favorites. Ned Talbot has worked all his life as a bookmaker-- taking over the family business from his grandfather-- so he knows not to expect any sympathy from the punters as they count their winnings, and he his losses. He's seen the ups and downs before-- but, as the big gambling conglomerates muscle in on small concerns like his, Ned wonders if it's worth it any more. When a gray-haired man steps forward from the crowd claiming to be his father, Ned's life is thrown into far deeper turmoil. He'd been told since he was a baby that his parents had died in a car crash. Barely an hour later, his newly found father is stabbed by an unknown assailant in the Ascot parking lot. Blood oozing from his abdomen, his father warns Ned to "be very careful." But of whom? Of what? Ned finds himself in a race to solve his father's riddle-- a race where coming in second could cost him more than even money-- it could cost him his life...
With their remarkable blend of unrelenting suspense, finely tuned narrative and lean, stylish prose, Dick Francis' thrillers repeatedly lead readers to the winner's circle. In this superbly crafted collection of 13 short stories, the settings range from a spring race in Cheltenham, England, where a middle-aged owner falls hopelessly in love with her jockey, to the Kentucky Derby, where demon drink and wilting willpower take their toll. Get set for a treat. These marvelous, tightly knotted plots expose classic characters in a world of equine thrills and human frailty. It's a brilliant collection of suspenseful racing stories from the Grand Master
Lord Henry Grey had a bad disposition. Or so his sister, his co-workers, and just about everyone else said. But Henry knew a new job was all he needed. His present career as an office worker and part-time amateur jockey would never do. So he took a new job--air transport of racehorses--which would let him see the world, and maybe change his luck. His luck changed all right--when he discovers that he's actually transporting something altogether different--and has to call upon every ounce of resourcefulness he has to land with his life intact.
Daniel Roke didn't want to leave his Australian stud farm to help look into an English horse-doping scandal. But there he was in England, taking over investigative duties vacated by a racing journalist who had died in a suspicious auto accident. And soon enough, Daniel learned that men who would give drugs to horses would do much worse to human beings.... "The best thriller writer going."--Atlantic Monthly
Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Prize for best crime story of 1969, this is another classic Dick Francis mystery set at the racetrack.
Steven Scott is a successful, wealthy toy inventor. With the inspired guidance of horse trainer Jody Leeds, and the prowess of a beautiful black hurdler named Energise, he has become a leading racehorse owner. His winning streak is about to come to a fast end when he discovers Jody is a crook who's already taken him for a fortune--and won't hesitate to take Steven's life...
Malcolm Pembroke never expected to make a million pounds without making enemies. Nor did he expect his latest wife to be brutally murdered. All the clues suggest the killer comes from close to home - but after five marriages and nine children, that still leaves the field wide open. When he finds his own life in danger, Pembroke entrusts his safety to his estranged son, Ian, an amateur jockey; and through him discovers a compulsive new outlet for his financial expertise. Soon he's playing the international bloodstock market for incredible stakes. Not the safest bet for a man on the run from avaricious relatives. Particularly when one of them's got a bomb...
Charles Todd--a renowned painter of horses--is shocked when he turns up at his cousin Donald's house for a weekend visit to find his cousin's young wife dead on the floor--and Donald the police's prime suspect. Determined to prove Donald's innocence, Todd trails a set of clues from England to Australia to New Zealand, only to realize that someone is trailing him. Someone with every intention of taking him out of the picture for good...
From the book cover: Mrs. Kerry Sanders, a rich American lady whose voice had overtones of silk hats, champagne, and Royal Lawns, and whose fingers were encrusted with diamonds, didn't think much of the weather, which was very wet. She sounded generally cranky. "This," she said in disbelief, "is Ascot goddam Sales?" It was. The wind was whistling through the ring's wooden O, and to one side of it, in the magnificent turn-of-the-century stable-yard's boxes, were the horses who would be offered for sale last in the program. Mrs. Sanders had asked Jonah Dereham, ex-prize-winning jockey, and now a horse buyer, to advise her-she wanted to buy a steeplechaser for a young man, who was the son of her special friend. They bought the horse Jonah decided on at the auction, for seven thousand five hundred dollars. "More than I authorized you to spend," the lady said. "And your commission on top, I guess, as well." She added, "In the States you couldn't buy a three-legged polo pony for that money." The young man for whom the horse was destined was Nicol Brevett-a hard, forceful young man, with a temper like a flamethrower. His father was Constantine Brevett, and Jonah feit that any woman who could interest Constantine Brevett had to be of a sophistication that would put Faberge eggs to shame. And-well, there was something more than wealth and sophistication involved in this horse trade. For as Jonah started to leave the sales, he was hit a crushing blow on the head, and a voice said to him, "We don't want your money. We want your horse." Jonah had suddenly become more entangled than was healthy in the corrupt and dangerous business the world of the horse buyer enfolds. This is a very exciting Dick Francis novel-and the reader will become more and more nervous as he follows the fast and chilling plot. "The announcement of a new Dick Francis is as promising of excitement as the bugle call to the post. Knockdown is one of his best, and his best is very good indeed," says Heywood Hale Broun. And the London Sunday Times says, "The superlatives for Mr. Francis' books are pretty nearly exhausted by now; so one can only say that this is another wonderfully effective horsey thriller, to do with bloodstock agents-sound stuff, Mr. Francis."
"Fast-paced, meticulously plotted...Nobody sets up a mystery better than Dick Francis."SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLETravel writer John Kendall didn't think he was doing anything too out of the ordinary when he tramped off to rural England for an interview with a successful race horse trainer. Soon enough, however, Kendall realizes that completing the book will be tricky at best. In fact, the perils described in his survival manuals pale next to the dangers in rural England....Selected by the Literary Guild, the Mystery Guild, and Doubleday Book Club
Jump in the saddle with a sure thing. Writer John Kendall travels to England to interview a racehorse trainer with something to hide-a secret that could threaten Kendall's life.
SMOKESCREEN: Edward Lincoln is a worldwide celebrity who plays detectives on the big screen. But when his godmother asks him to investigate her racehorses in South Africa, he's out of his depth. Soon enough, he's plunged into a plot of gold, greed, and gilded lives that forces him to uncover a killer and give a bravura performance he'll never give again. <P><P> KNOCKDOWN: For a generous commission, ex-prize-winning jockey Jonah Dereham reluctantly agrees to bid on a young steeplechaser on behalf of a wealthy American woman. But his life is thrust into danger immediately following the auction, when he receives a blow to the head by two thugs demanding ownership of the horse. Unfortunately, that's just the beginning-and now Jonah must figure out the high-stakes game being played...before he becomes its next casualty. <P> SLAYRIDE: British investigator David Cleveland has come to Oslo to investigate a champion jockey's disappearance right before the National, a race he was certain to win. But he's almost drowned in a fjord for his troubles. David knows accident and coincidence couldn't begin to explain this little mishap or the oncoming gruesome string of deaths that David Cleveland would find was meant to include his own.
Rob Finn was a bit of a misfit: a struggling young jockey in a family of accomplished musicians, a man in love with a beautiful woman who wouldn't have him -- he suddenly looked like a rider who had lost his nerve. Could it be, though, that the horses were unusually sluggish, and that there was something more sinister attempting to sabotage him. . . ' "The best thriller writer going. " ATLANTIC MONTHLY
After a fall from a racehorse that permanently crippled his hand, Sid Halley joined a detective agency. But it wasn't until some two-bit hoodlum drilled a slug into his side that he was sent out on a case of his own. That was where he met Zanna Martin, a woman who just might make life worth living again. But it was even-money that he'd be killed before she had the chance....
Wine merchant Tony Beach has expertly catered his latest society soiree, but the fun's over when a team of hit men crash the party...literally. The event leaves Tony with a bitter aftertaste of suspicion--and sets off a mystery that's an intoxicating blend of deception, intrigue, and murder.
Hired to fly four racing buffs to the track, pilot Matt Shore expects it will be the kind of job he likes: quick and easy. Until, that is, he's forced to make an emergency landing just minutes before the plane explodes. Luckily, no one is hurt, but it isn't long before Matt realizes that he's caught up in the rat race of violent criminals who are dead-set on putting anyone who stands in their way on the wrong side of the odds...
Assigned to fly four racing buffs to the track, pilot Matt Shore is forced to make an emergency landing, and he soon finds out that the mob has been tampering with the horseracing industry.
Longtime jockey Philip Nore suspects that a racetrack photographer's fatal accident was really murder--and unravels some nasty secrets of corruption, blackmail, and murder.
Jockey Philip Nore is no ordinary hero. When Nore begins to suspect that a track photographer's fatal accident was really murder, he sets out to discover the truth and to trap the killer. Slowly, he unravels some nasty secrets of corruption, blackmail and murder--and unwittingly sets himself up as the killer's next target.
Roland Britten was an amateur jockey, and an accountant by profession, who woke up one morning and found he couldn't move his hands. He also could not see. And all he could hear was the noise of an engine, very close by. He finally decided he was lying in the dark, tied to a generator. But why? And where? And by whom? And what would happen next?
When a hurricane-chasing plane is downed on a Caribbean island, TV meteorologist Perry Stuart barely escapes with his life. But he can't escape what he saw on the island--and if the people who've tracked him back to England have their way, Stuart will have a zero percent chance of survival.
Dick Francis takes us on his most electrifying, death-defying ride yet in Second Wind. The catastrophic power of a giant hurricane can raise coastal waves thirty feet high and blow through houses at devastating speeds. For TV meteorologist Perry Stuart, however, such predictions are generally hypothetical, as he chiefly predicts periods of English drizzle, with bursts of heavier rain and sunshine to follow. Stuart's profound weather knowledge and accuracy have given him high status among forecasters, but no physical baptism by storm. Not, that is, until a fellow forecaster offers him a Caribbean hurricane-chasing ride in a small airplane as a holiday diversion. But a frightening accident teaches Stuart more secrets than wind speeds . . . and back home in England he faces threats and danger as deadly as anything nature can evolve.
When jockey Martin Stukely dies after a fall at Cheltenham, he accidentally embroils his friend Gerard Logan in a perilous search for a stolen videotape. Logan is a glassblower on the verge of widespread acclaim. Long accustomed to the frightful dangers inherent in molten glass and in maintaining a glassmaking furnace at never less than 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, Logan is suddenly faced with terrifying threats to his business, his courage, and his life. Believing that the missing video holds the key to a priceless treasure, and wrongly convinced that Logan knows where to find it, criminal forces set out to press him for information he doesn't have. To survive, he realizes that he himself must sort out the truth. The final race to the tape throws more hazards in Logan's way than his dead jockey friend could ever have imagined. Glass shatters. Logan doesn't ...but it's a close-run thing.
From Dick Francis and his son, Felix, comes Geoffrey Mason-a defense barrister whose true passion is riding his Thoroughbred. Mason's two lives collide when a fellow jockey is accused of murdering a colleague with a pitchfork. Mason prefers not to get involved. But soon he is torn between doing what's right-and what will keep him alive.
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