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Dick Francis (pictured with his son Felix Francis) was born in South Wales in 1920. He was a young rider of distinction winning awards and trophies at horse shows throughout the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot, flying fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster.He became one of the most successful postwar steeplechase jockeys, winning more than 350 races and riding for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. After his retirement from the saddle in 1957, he published an autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write more than forty acclaimed books, including the New York Times bestsellers Even Money and Silks. A three-time Edgar Award winner, he also received the prestigious Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger, was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2000. He died in February 2010, at age eighty-nine, and remains among the greatest thriller writers of all time.
By now, regular readers of Francis's novels know exactly what to expect: a carefully plotted mystery woven through the world of horseracing, with a few twists and a hero who can be depended upon to do the right thing. On those counts, his 28th novel neither surprises nor disappoints. When Derek Franklin, a steeplechase jockey nursing a shattered ankle from a bad spill, learns of the death of his older, long-estranged brother Greville, he's stunned to find himself named as both executor of the will and sole heir. But in rapid succession, Derek is mugged, his brother's gemology firm is robbed, and Derek himself is assaulted in another robbery attempt; understandably, he comes to suspect that Greville's death may not have been an accident. The complications that follow involve diamond trading, a horse named Dozen Roses and secret computer passwords that are discovered with such consistent good luck that credibility suffers. So does Derek--by story's end, he has rebroken his ankle and been involved in two shootings and a car wreck. Thanks to a clever finale, however, he emerges as intact as the author's reputation. Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection; Mysterious Book Club main selection; BOMC featured dividend selection. (Nov.)