An interesting glimpse into the world of Thoroughbred horse racing, wrapped in a murder mystery
Author Felix Francis continues to take on his late father’s work in this intriguing mystery of game fixing and murder lurking under the surface of an oft-maligned industry.
The plot evolves when crisis manager and lawyer Harrison Foster is drawn into the world of Thoroughbred racing after a stable fire kills a number of prized horses, including a Derby favourite. The ashes of the fire reveal human remains too, setting Foster on a darkening path of danger.
With Foster new to the world of horse racing, the industry is exposed progressively, allowing the uninformed listener to also come to understand the politics, personalities and demands of breeders and racers. It’s a world where the horses are often treated better than the people who look after them, and a world where a lot of money can be made from a winner.
It’s a well-researched expose of the good and the bad in the industry, with a satisfying mystery to move the plot along and keep the intrigue levels high.
It’s not all darkness and fear however, with Francis’ novel finding time for romance, humour with his oft-likeable characters. The characters, while not deep, are suitably flawed and relatable enough to have us barracking for the hero and fearing the numerous plot twists each time they take us by surprise.
British actor Martin Jarvis is articulate and enjoyable, but his characterisations do sometimes distract from the story, particularly when performing female voices. This aside, he is, none-the-less, engaging, providing clear characterisations and a good pace.
Crisis: A Dick Francis Novel is a surprisingly good listen, particularly for those with little interest in horse racing, because the backdrop adds multiple layers to the overarching mystery.
It was released by Bolinda Audio in September 2018 and runs for just over ten and a half hours. It is available on MP3 CD for $49.95 from the Bolinda website.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis