His mundane numbed existence is jolted out of its seasoned normality, when a man claiming to be his father, meets him at the parking lot at the Ascot. Ned is shocked, he grew up with his grandfather, who told him his parents had died in a car crash - so who is this man, really, claiming to be his father? Where had been all these years? Why had he chosen to show up now - seven years and two days after the old man’s death? His mind is a mess - he has never met his father for thirty seven years, has believed that the only family he has is now dead, yet here is this man, claiming to be his parent!
And so Edward ‘Ned’ Talbot is reunited with Peter James Talbot, his father. Peter tells him that he had panicked when Ned’s mother died in the crash, and in typical teenage fashion, had bolted in the opposite direction - to Australia. As Peter is filling the blanks in Ned’s life, telling him he has two half sisters, they walk down an alley. The sound of footsteps rings alarm bells, he’d had a bad day at the races - why would anyone follow him to steal from him?
The duo are mugged, and even though Ned throws an envelope with money towards the men - it simply lies untouched on the grass, so does his father - who has been stabbed in the stomach. Peter dies in the emergency room. Orphaned twice over, Ned is numb with shock, which deepens when the investigating officer tells him that contrary to the information the man has shared with them regarding his ‘father’ - the credentials the dead man has speak otherwise; his credit card and driver’s license have on them the name Alan Charles Grady.
The police are mistrustful of Ned, shadowing him as he visits Sophie, his wife in hospital, who is being treated for bipolar disorder; his mind is plagued with questions, as he wonders how and why his ‘father’ could’ve landed them all in such a mess? When he goes to the hotel where his father had rented a room, Ned finds thirty thousand pounds in cash, a device that resembles a remote control, counterfeit horse papers, and a polythene bag containing something that resembles grains of rice, but on closer look is frosted glass. Despite all the depressing events in his life, Ned is rewarded with a happy ending - where he is reunited with his sisters, and both he and Sophie look forward to parenthood!
Dick and Felix Francis have researched well, the Senior Francis is gifted with years of experience as a steeplechase jockey and Felix has almost effortlessly managed to melt into the style of writing adopted by his father - this seamless narration is the strength of Even Money. Excellent read!