By Dick Francis
Jove Books (Reprint) October, 2000
Review by Larry Jung (December 2009)
- "Cold gray water lapped the flimsy-looking sides of the fiberglass dinghy, I shivered and I thought of the five hundred feet straight down to the seabed underneath. An hour out of Oslo with the outboard stilled and my friend Arne Kristiansen taking all afternoon to answer some simple questions."
The opening is vintage Dick Francis. The story starts at a full gallop with a vivid depiction of the opening scene of the narrator David Cleveland, an investigator with the British Jockey Club, and his contact in Norway. What at first appears to be the theft of the day’s take at the turnstiles of one of Norway’s racetracks and the disappearance of Bob Sherman, a British steeplechase jockey riding for a Norwegian race horse owner, nearly costs David Cleveland his life.
Naturally Bob Sherman is the prime and only suspect for the robbery. The investigation by the Norwegian Jockey Club had not turned up the whereabouts of Bob Sherman in three weeks. The Chairman of the Norwegian racecourse telephoned for a British Jockey Club investigator. David Cleveland sent himself.
The story unfolds with the hallmark dry wit of a Dick Francis. His protagonist, David Cleveland, is no super hero but is persistent in the pursuit of his goal, in this case to unravel the truth behind the disappearance of Bob Sherman. Attempts at Cleveland’s life only make him more determined. His friend Arne Kristiansen, the head of the Norwegian racecourse security, knows that once Cleveland takes on a case, Cleveland will solve it.
Another hallmark of a Dick Francis mystery is his insider knowledge of the racing world and the dark secrets to whatever professions or trades the story takes the reader. In SLAY RIDE, the big business of oil, international horse racing, and the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II end up in blackmail and murder. The plot twists are subtle and the ending satisfying.
The story is as fresh as it was in 1973 when SLAY RIDE was first published. Greed, fear, pride, and human weakness never go out of fashion. Neither do capable men who catch villains. If you are new to Dick Francis, SLAY RIDE is a good place to start. The book is not part of a series. If you get hooked, you’re in luck; all of his books are still being reprinted.
Some of the mysteries by Dick Francis.
FIELD OF THIRTEEN
TO THE HILT
COME TO GRIEF
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