February 14th, 2010

Just Me

Goodbye, sir, and I thank you for countless hours of pleasure

Dick Francis, British Master of Horse-racing Thrillers, Dead at 89


It's hard to explain the pleasures I received from hour after hour of reading Dick Francis' wonderful novels, all set in the world of British horse-racing, all also dealing in detail with some other profession, from merchant banking to portrait painting to wine selling. Oh, Francis wrote about actual cops and private eyes, both experienced and novice, and he wrote about expert survivalists and kidnapping negotiators... But he was probably at his strongest when he wrote of ordinary men, connected primarily by their great decency, who found themselves through inadvertence embroiled in murder and crime, and who fought more with brains than brawn to save their own lives, and those of loved ones.

There was a sort of mannered, gentle quality to Dick Francis' writing, soothing while still compelling, introducing us to gently yet fiercely decent men who will risk terrible consequences to do what's right, and will charm and move the reader in the process.

The best I can do to describe Francis' stories is that they read the way Hugh Grant acts, powerfully, charmingly, and with a certain diffidence.

If you've not read his works, you've missed a lot of wonderful hours...

But it's not too late. His books are on all the shelves.

Read them, and join me in offering him thanks, where-ever he now rides.