On the Bookshelf...

In the Frame

Dick Francis

A classic mystery from Dick Francis, the champion of English storytellers. Charles Todd, a successful artist who paints horses, arrives at his cousin Donald's house and stumbles on a grisly scene: police cars everywhere, his cousin arrested for murder and Donald's wife brutally slain. Believing - unlike the police - Donald's story of a burglary gone wrong, Charles follows clues which lead him from England to Australia and a diabolical scheme involving fraud and murder. But soon Charles realises that someone is on his trail. Someone who wants to make sure that Charles won't live long enough to save Donald.

In the Frame is one of the classic Dick Francis novels published originally in 1976, the year I first read his novels (Rat Race). I wondered how badly or well it had held up, bearing in mind that my last reread by Clive Cussler hadn't stood the test of time.

Charles Todd, a horse artist, visits his cousins house only to find it has been burgled and Donalds wife has been murdered. All his possessions including a Munnings painting recently bought in Australia have disappeared. A few weeks later he finds that another person who bought a similar painting in Australia has her house burned down. He sets off to Australia to find out what happened. Teaming up with his old student friend, newly married, he finds more than meets the eye.

I do love a good Francis novel. Not a horse racing fan, I find his books none the less fascinating. He manages to weave a story which includes horse racing in some way, yet never the real focus of the story. Most of the best have horse racing in the periphery, this one being a prime example. There's little about horse racing apart from the fact the main protagonist paints racehorses for a living. Yet each book is a wonderful insight into the horse racing world.

So, has this book held up well? The answer is yes. It could have been written today, apart from the lack of mobile technology, the story is a classic mix of crime and human interest. The world is still as fresh as I remembered it. The characters likeable and the twist at the end not being seen until its revealed.

Solid gold Francis.

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Review by
AJ Steel
March 24, 2023

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