CRISIS is the thirteenth ‘Dick Francis’ novel by Felix Francis following on from the thirty-nine penned by his late father. Of all of those, CRISIS is the first to be written from the point of view of a first-person character that knows nothing about horse racing, indeed Harrison Foster is more than a little afraid of horses. Anyone picking this book up who similarly has no knowledge of racing will have no fear that they will be left behind and might even develop an interest in the sport as a result. Conversely, people who follow racing closely may pick up a few choice nuggets along the way.
Harrison Foster, our hero, is a lawyer by training but he works as a crisis manager for a London firm that specializes in such matters. Summoned to the Chadwick family stables in Newmarket after a fire kills six valuable horses, including the short-priced favourite for the Derby, Harry (as he is known) finds there is far more to the ‘simple’ fire than initially meets the eye. For a start, human remains are found amongst the equestrian ones in the burnt-out shell. All the stable staff are accounted for, so who is the mystery victim?
Harry knows very little about horses, indeed he positively dislikes them, but he is thrust unwillingly into the world of Thoroughbred racing where he finds that the standard of care of the equine stars is far higher than that of the humans who attend to them. The Chadwick family are a dysfunctional racing dynasty, with the emphasis being on the nasty. Resentment between the generations is rife and sibling rivalry bubbles away like volcanic magma beneath a thin crust of respectability.
Harry represents the Middle-Eastern owner of the dead Derby favourite and, as he delves deeper into the unanswered questions surrounding the horse’s demise, he ignites a fuse that blows the volcano sky-high, putting him in grave jeopardy and unearthing Chadwick family secrets that others would prefer to leave well buried.
Peter McGee of The Bookbag writes: “I used to read Dick Francis’s racing novels and I could always be certain that he had the inside knowledge to back up the plots. I did wonder if I would feel the same way about his son’s books but I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised. CRISIS is an entertaining and fast moving story from a man who is rapidly outpacing his father and which will appeal not just to fans of horseracing.”
Crisis is published by Simon & Schuster