Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wild Horses - Authored by Dick Francis - Released in 1994

Dick Francis’s 33rd novel is a story about Thomas Lyon, a former steeplechase jockey, turned film director. Lyon is shooting a film, starring an American movie star, based on a best seller about the mysterious death of a young horse trainer’s wife Sonya Wells - whether she was murdered or actually committed suicide by hanging - remains unknown. The book is based on the actual occurrence, in which the woman was found deceased - it is a twenty six year old cold police case.

Now, her sister, niece and nephew are obstructing the shooting of the film, whilst the author of the book it is based on is concerned about ensuring that the film maker is not tampering with the original plot. Meanwhile, in the midst of the filming, Lyon’s friend Valentine Clark, a racing columnist by trade, passes away, with Thomas at his bedside; as luck would have it, Clark, in his state of delirium, mistakes Lyon for a priest, and makes a death bed confession. He also bequeaths to Thomas his wealth of articles and racing books - apparently priceless, as a lot of people want to get their hands on them - and the fact that Lyon is in possession of these is miffing many people around - they stop at nothing and can stoop to any extent to get the books, on one instance, assaulting Dorothea, Clark’s elderly sister.

Why is Lyon interested in making this particular film? It is because Jackson Wells, Rupert Visborough (her brother-in-law) and Valentine Clark were acquaintances. After Sonya’s death, the two men -Jackson and Rupert were dismissed from the Jockey Club, putting an end to their budding careers. When Thomas Lyon approaches the producer of the film O’Hara, the latter and Lyon both agree that it could be a shot at solving the woman’s mysterious death, they could actually come up with theories and clues that would clear Jackson and Rupert’s names.

But someone wants the filming to stop immediately, he/she seems to understand the intention behind unraveling the death; in a bid to warn Lyon’s, the actor’s double is attacked, another murder is committed - this time the victim is Clark’s nephew, and Thomas is blatantly given death threats, and even stabbed in the market place. So what did Clarks confess which has sent Thomas Lyon’s in a state? It seems that the old man, mistaking Lyon for a priest, sought absolution for his guilt for having killed someone some years ago.

A different read from most other books of Francis, this one plays on the human aspect of relationships, of how the past can cloud the present. For instance, Sonya wasn’t the loving wife everyone believed her to be, neither was Clark’s nephew, Dorothea’s son the martyr for having looked after his mother all those years. He does however redeem himself in the readers’ minds for having died saving his mother when goons break into her home. On the other hand, Jackson, whose life has been a whole mess for a long, long time, actually found true love and lived happily ever after. Even the fact that Valentine Clarks may have been a killer, makes one feel sorry for him - to have lived an entire lifetime with such guilt-ridden thoughts, painful!

A good read for anyone who enjoys a tear jerker and admires heroes who ‘keep ticking despite getting a constant licking’!

Wild Horses - Authored by Dick Francis - Released in 1994

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