The paperback had lost its front cover and the blurb on the back mentioned racing.
That almost put me off, but I was stuck in a cottage in rural Kent. Rain had stopped hop picking for the day, it was too wet to walk into the nearest village and there was nothing else to read.
The book was Flying Finish by Dick Francis and within a few paragraphs I was hooked.
I sought out his other books and have now read everything he’s written.
He was a champion jockey who went into journalism when he retired from the race track. That didn’t pay well, his wife suggested he write a novel and that was the start of his career as a thriller writer.
Horses and racing feature in all his books but his heroes usually have other strings to their bows. Through Dick Francis I learned more about photography, flying, the jewellery business and wine than I’d otherwise have thought I’d want to know.
The meticulous detail which made his characters and their lives so real and believable was one of the factors which made his books so good.
He had an old-fashioned attitude to women, but most of his books featured a strong woman and his heroes always treated them with respect. They were also honest and upright and one of the themes in all his books was the triumph of good against evil.
His late wife, Mary did a lot of his research and some suggest she played a bigger role in the writing too. His last four books were co-authored with his son Francis.
Dick Francis’s website is here.
The Times’ obituary is here.
The Telegraph’s obituary is here.
The Guardian’s obituary is here.
Keeping Stock also pays tribute.
Update: Kismet Farma has posted her tribute too.