On the Bookshelf...

High Stakes

Dick Francis

When inventor Stephen Scott abruptly fires his winning trainer Jody Leeds, the racing world is shocked and disgusted - though not quite as angry as Leeds, who swears revenge on his former friend. But Steven is convinced that Leeds has been stealing from him - and worse - and felt he had no choice. And when Leeds decides to enact his vengeance, Steven finds out just what a nasty piece of work he really is. Because now Steven is not only in fear of losing everything - but also his life. Somehow, he must prove to the world that Leeds is a vicious crook - or die trying . . .

Another week, another Dick Francis novel to rediscover, this time High Stakes. I tend to buy them when they are 99p on Kindle so can't be sure I've read them before. This one was well worth the money and probably a lot more than the asking price. Once again this is horse racing light. The chief protagonist Stephen Scott owes racehorses and suspects his trainer of defrauding him out of a lot of money. Taking his horses away unearths more than just the initial theft but a conspiracy involving a betting firm.

As with all Francis novels there is great attention to detail. Stephen Scott is an inventor of children's toys, famous for a bestselling range. There's a love interest with a visiting American woman who he meets having been abandoned on the streets of London (cue song). There's the usual protagonist being beaten to within an inch of his life, the surprise twist at the end. All in all, a satisfying thriller.

There's an undercurrent that runs through all Dick Francis books, apart from horse racing. It's the fact that the protagonist is usually quite well off financially and is an expert in his field. I guess that helps the narrative go along and is not unusual in fiction. Sometimes it's a little off putting but in this case it works well. Even though written in the seventies, it still holds up well. Maybe not his best novel, but a worthy addition to my kindle library.

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Review by
AJ Steel
March 31, 2023

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