Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twice Shy (Published in 1981) - Story in 2 parts, 14 years in between - Authored by Dick Francis

Twice Shy is narrated by John and William Derry, in two parts.

John Derry is head of the Physics Department at the West Ealing School, ‘with four masters and two technicians under my name.’ He follows innovative and somewhat unorthodox ways of teaching, which include getting an air gun into class to teach the students a lesson in speed! John has been married, eight years, to Sarah; they feel little attraction for each other and the marriage is like the many we see around us - for name sake’s only. For a young man of thirty three, Derry seems sounds dour, but is actually a solid, dependable guy. There are no offspring, but John has a much younger brother - William who is fifteen years old, tucked away at an expensive boarding school, thanks to a wealthy inheritance. Where is the trademark Francis horses? Well, William wants to be a jockey!
The teacher’s travails begin when his friend Peter hands over deceptively innocent audio music tapes - three of them, for safekeeping. Peter’s wife Donna is having psychological problems, serious ones - she’s stolen a baby - and to make all else worse, he is killed in an explosion! The tapes are far from musical, they are actually a coded computer language, used for betting by a gambler and criminal called Liam O’Rourke. After Peter’s sad demise, two low-lives land up at his doorstep - Angelo and Harry Gilbert, who demand that he handover the tapes to him - they want their hands on the tapes to find out details of the system that bets only on winning horses.

The first half of the book narrated by John Derry is and account of how he tries to safeguard the tapes, dodging the deadly duo and also multi tasking, i. e trying to unravel the secret behind the demand for the tapes. As luck would have it, time runs out for the criminals, and they are both sentenced to fourteen years in prison.
This is the second half of the book, narrated by William Derry, when the criminals have done time. Meanwhile, Jonathan migrates to the US, and takes up a teaching job there. Will, on the other hand, gives in to his love for horses and becomes a successful jockey, he retires when he gets a tad taller and heavier to ride. He then transitions to become a racing manager for a well to do horse owner. He also discovers that Angelo , for some reason believes it is Will who has been the thorn in his side, and the cause for all the bad stuff happening to him - therefore, obviously, Will deserves to die!
Twice Shy is written in the mystery form of Le Carre and PD James, it is Francis’s nineteenth novel. Although the plot is straightforward, the added dimension of the fourteen years works as an uplifting perspective. It is also the inspiration for a film by the same name, directed by Deirdre Friel and released in 1989. The screenplay was jointly written by Dick Francis and Miles Henderson. An interesting read, somewhat bumpy owing to the trappings of all mystery forms of writing and the aspect of technology in the ‘80s progressing towards the ‘90s - not a smooth transition there; even so, a good book on a rainy day.

Twice Shy (Published in 1981) - Story in 2 parts, 14 years in between - Authored by Dick Francis

No comments: