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*Starred Review* In the steeplechase world, refusal means that a horse will not take a jump. Dick Francis' son Felix, collaborator with his father on several novels and now the heir to his father's line of mysteries, extends the equestrian definition to the massively banged-up (physically and emotionally) Sid Halley, who stars in a Francis novel for the first time since 2006. Halley, a champion steeplechase jockey who lost his left hand to the double whammy of a fall from a horse and an attack by a thug, long ago turned his insider's knowledge of the race world into private investigative work. But an intense fear campaign directed at his girlfriend made him retire from the track altogether at the end of Under Orders. When the chairman of the British Racing Authority asks Halley to investigate his strong suspicion that races are being fixed, Halley refuses. Even after the chairman is found dead, threats made to Halley's family, and his daughter placed in danger, Halley still refuses, holding onto the safety of his family, which he knows would be blown apart by his investigating the case. What finally tips Halley into changing his mind is entirely convincing, even though it ratchets up the danger for Halley and his family. This is fascinating reading on every level, from the neatly calibrated plot, moving from suspense to terror, to all the details of the racing world Francis provides. Halley is now, as before, an utterly complex, interest-holding character. And the final, moral turn that Francis makes of refusal is brilliant. A heroic return for Sid Halley.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Last seen in Under Orders (2006), Sid Halley-ex-jockey, ex-PI-is forced back into sleuthing to protect himself, his family and friends, and, ultimately, the British racing world from the deadly machinations of a bookmaker thug ring. Ulster murderer Billy McCusker is rigging races, using barn burning, blackmail, incrimination, extortion, and murder to force jockeys to ride to his dictates. But McCusker hits an obstacle when he tries to control Sid by terrorizing his family. Halley uses his prosthetic left hand, his stouthearted Welsh wits, and his friendships to protect and prevail. The promise of a hand transplant (to replace the one Halley lost in a riding accident) inspires guilty hope for rain, which increases the risk of fatal motorcycle accidents and a possible donor. Does Halley succeed? Does it ever rain in springtime in southern England? Verdict Francis (Dick Francis's Bloodline) successfully resurrects his late father's most popular series character, evoking a similar dry British humor and vividly bringing the racing world to life-all true to Dick Francis form. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/13.]-Edith Lawraine Smith, San Francisco (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Francis successfully resurrects one of his late father's most popular creations and only series character-disabled jockey-turned-PI Sid Halley (last seen in 2006's Under Orders), who has given up detecting as a concession to his wife, Marina. Well-off from investments, Sid leads a happy if placid country life with Marina and their six-year-old daughter. Given his desire to avoid the rough stuff, Sid is reluctant to look into "some corrupt goings-on in racing" when asked to do so by Sir Richard Stewart, chairman of the British Horseracing Authority. Sir Richard is sparing with details, providing only a list of recent races, and Sid is careful not to commit. Sid changes his mind after Sir Richard dies while sitting in a running car in a closed garage, an apparent suicide. Of course, his involvement in the case places Sid and those dear to him at risk. Longtime fans will be hard put to tell this gripping thriller from the senior Francis's work. Agent: Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.