Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dead Cert (published in 1962) - a horse racing story by Dick Francis

Richard Stanley Francis or Dick Francis was born in Pembrokshire, Wales, England on October 20th 1920. His father was a renowned jockey and Francis was catapulted in to the world of Horses, Jockeys and racing. He dropped out of school to train as a Jockey and was a fighter pilot in the Royal Air-force during World War II. After the war Francis became a celebrity Champion Jockey winning over 350 races. He was the lead Jockey for the Queen Mother. But he had to drop out of Horse racing after a serious fall and became a racing correspondent for Sunday Express. Dick Francis churned out numerous best sellers and most of his books deal with the mysteries in the realm of Horse racing and Jockeys. He wrote more than 40 international best sellers and is the recipient of numerous awards. Being a three time recipient of Mystery writer of America's Edgar Award he was made the Grand master of MWA. He is also the recipient of Britain's Crime Writers Association's Gold Dagger Award for fiction in 1979 and the Cartier Diamond Dagger lifetime achievement award. He also has the Gumshoe award to his credit. He was accorded in CBE in 2000. Dick Francis died in his Caribbean home on February 10, 2010 bringing down the curtains to an illustrious life.
The Dead Cert Hero, Alan York is an Amateur Jockey in the steeplechase races. During one of the races, he witnesses his friend Bill Davidson falling down from his horse and getting injured. Alan pulls up to help his friend to the hospital where he is declared dead. On his return his suspicions of foul play are confirmed when he finds the wires coiled near the fences and grooves on the posts. When he tries to bring it to the notice of the law enforcers, the wires disappear. Alan forms one of the credible witnesses for the police and soon is asking questions to the officers.

Soon he is kidnapped and beaten up severely with a warning to let go of the case. But the beatings harden his determination to find the truth about his friends death. He also meets the women of his heart, Kate and soon indulges in a cat and mouse game with the wily antagonist to protect Kate. As he digs deeper he finds a ring of power crazy aristocrats who rig races and are even willing to murder jockeys who do not agree to their demands to fix races. Bill Davidson's children secretly listening to their fathers telephonic conversation provide the vital clue to crack this mystery.
This mystery describes us the world of British race tracks before the advent of high tech. If you are interested how crime was solved without the aid of cell phones, DNA and the host of other innovations, you have come to the right place. Alan York is the upright British Gentleman, who keeps his English uptight demeanor in-spite of beatings and injuries and doggedly pursues his much connected adversary to pay for his friends death.
Francis weaves a great tale effortlessly and the amount of suspense is really high. The language is clear cut and crisp like a refreshing summer day. A great book to unwind.


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