Monday, November 28, 2011


I liked Dick Francis novels. I thought they were just about all well done. Not all, perhaps -- every so often, a clunker would slip through -- but usually, you could count on them. Someone with a job that was somehow related to horse racing would get involved in A Problem. The problem would be of sufficient magnitude that the person would get sucked into wanting to resolve it. Sometimes they wanted to, sometimes they had to. Along the way, someone nefarious would get interested in the person's interest, and attempt to dissuade them. The attempt might be verbal, to be followed by physical means, or it might go directly to physical. Through perseverance, and occasionally through knowing wealthy or well-placed people, the person would find out what was actually going on. The bad guys would go to jail, or to a hospital, or worse.

Not all of the books, as I say, would be good. We picked up two from a used book sale, and while the first one - Straight - was satisfying and full, the second - Second Wind - missed the mark. It had all of the stylistic touches of a Francis novel, but it didn't hit the target. I'm not sure why, but whatever the reason, I think it explains why books written about a well-known fictional character, but done by someone else, usually sound hollow. They have no heart -- or at least, not the heart that the original author put there. The fellow who wrote the Nero Wolfe novels grumbled that he didn't want to see anyone writing his characters into novels after he was dead. They should write their own, he said. Still, with the success of books that said Dick Francis above the title, it was a pretty-much foregone conclusion that someone would try. In this case, it appears to be his son. I've read two of them. One sounds like the hollow version, and one sounded - not bad.

It'd be nice to have the original back, but I suppose this will do.

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