Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Edge - Authored by Dick Francis - Published in 1988

Dick Francis writes his twenty seventh novel - The Edge, with the character of Tor Kelsey playing the lead. For once, the hero is not a jockey but a successful sleuth, and the story is set on the Great Transcontinental Train in Canada - instead of a racetrack in the UK. Kelsey narrates the story as well. On board the train are a group of wealthy horse owners, who have chartered it, promoting equestrian sport through a series of races, an adrenalin charging, and high profile junket for the rich and famous.

Also, there are on board actors who add flavor to the journey – acting out a whodunit about the killing of a horse, asking fellow travelers to help solve the case. Kelsey is on board, in the guise of a waiter. A bit of background on Kelsey - he is a wealthy fellow but is working ‘to avoid the temptation of being able to have every sweet in the sweet shop’, currently employed with the Jockey Club, but only because he loves horses and the racetrack, he is, as mentioned earlier, a smart investigator who has a winning personality.

He is here, on the trail of a murderer or killers, one of whom is Julius Apollo Filmer, who has to his discredit an unexplained number of deaths. The aim of the horse lovers is to promote love for Canadian equestrian sport across the country - and Julius is the man who wants to throw a spanner in the works. Tor is employed with the Club to tail Filmer, known in the racing circles for having the reputation of a troublemaker. Julius has the standing of one of the coldest hearted and cruel operatives of the racetrack underworld, implicated in the death of a stable hand, and is the most likely reason why a trainer killed himself.

Amongst the other passengers are the Lorimer family, wealthy and famous, they are lending their hand (and wallet) to contribute towards the growth of Canadian equestrian sport; the  family seems perfect, except that beneath the surface are chinks in the armor. The most sought after character of Filmer is someone we see very little of, but his presence is felt throughout the story, it’s as if the negativity of his being is all pervasive.

The whodunit enacted by the troupe of actors on board, meant to entertain, is actually carried out - and Kelsey’s adeptness is under the scanner as he works to solve the case. However, let it be made clear to the reader, that Tor is aware who the criminal is - it’s just that he doesn’t have enough evidence to nab the guy. Typical cat and mouse game, Tor the cat is waiting to pounce on Filmer the mouse - when – that is the question! Key witnesses have backed out at the last minute, given Filmer’s track record for intimidation.

The novel’s appeal lies in the fact that the element of adventure and mystery is enhanced by the train journey, also, the character of Tor, though near perfect, has human blemishes - he is concerned how his lack of foresight and strategizing to prevent a train crash would impact families and his own guilt at having failed to save lives. An audio book for this novel is narrated by Tony Britton, a Dick Francis favorite, with an almost convincing Canadian accent. A good read, if you are a first timer – you’re hooked to Francis, if not, this is another masterpiece from the author for your personal collection!

The Edge - Authored by Dick Francis - Published in 1988

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