Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Look Review "Silks"

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

It’s time for Christmas gift recommendations!
This book makes a great gift for men or women - take a vacation from your vacation.

The latest Dick Francis mystery novel is written with the help of his son Felix. After writing more than 40 books, winning the Edgar Award three times for best novel, and many more awards to list, he is entitled to a co writer. Dick must be almost 100 years old! I am actually a fan of co writers for old authors who are over-the-hill, past their sell-by date, ancient, and prone to wander. I wonder who will help me with this book review column when I begin to do some mind meandering…?

“Silks” does not disappoint Dick Francis fans. It contains all the important elements of his entertaining storytelling style. The good guy is really good, the bad guy uses a baseball bat to beat up people so he is really bad, and the victims are pitiful. There is plenty of race course action at Sandown which includes fighting, falling and felony. There is also plenty of courtroom action at London’s Old Bailey which also includes fighting, falling and felony. The fighting is a bit more graphic than some past Francis novels and has a real menace behind it at times. The good guy falls off of horses and may be falling in love with the lovely leading lady. The felonies involve illegal betting, illegal intimidation, illegal beating and the very illegal stabbing with a pitchfork.

Geoffrey Mason, our hero, is a British barrister who is also an amateur steeplechase jockey. When one of his fellow riders Steve Mitchell is accused of murdering another jockey by driving a pitchfork through his chest, he calls Mason to defend him. Threatening phone calls warn Mason that he must lose the case and be sure that Steve Mitchell is convicted of murder. The evidence is overwhelming and Mason struggles to find any clue as to who the real killer could be. The intimidation escalates as he is attacked and his father threatened. There is a sense that this is a real problem in the justice system today and an important part of the story.

Of course this is Dick Francis so justice prevails with a bit of a Perry Mason courtroom conclusion but it is a satisfying end to a frustrating situation. If you have not read any novels by Francis you should start with “Straight”, “Reflex” or “Risk” which were written earlier when the author was more at the top of his game. If you are already a fan you will enjoy spending time again with one of the best storytellers still writing.

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