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Francis, Dick

racing hero personal features

(British, 1920– )

A former bomber pilot and champion steeplechase jockey, Francis became a racing journalist after retiring from the saddle in 1957. His first adventure thriller appeared in 1962. Francis has published a book a year since, winning lifetime achievement awards from his peers on both sides of the Atlantic. A typical Francis novel is set against a racing background and features a hero who must battle against personal adversity as well as external enemies to triumph—and usually get the girl. Sometimes violent, often ingenious, always page-turning, the books typify traditional values.

Begin with Reflex (1980), which features a double plot involving a jockey who is also an amateur photographer confronted with a mysterious collection of what appears to be meaningless photographic rubbish. Three books feature private eye Sid Halley—Odds Against (1965), Whip Hand (1979), and Come to Grief (1995). All are among Francis's most nail-biting work, placing his hero under tremendous personal pressure. To the Hilt (1996) shows Francis is just as readable when he moves away from racing.

Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth, John Buchan. See THRILLERS  VM

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