Book Review: Dick Francis’ Refusal By Felix Francis

Sid Halley Book 5

Dick Francis’s Refusal by Felix Francis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh what tangled webs we weave
Sid is dragged back into investigating kicking and screaming after leaving it for his wife and daughter.
People are dying, people are frightened and the sport of horse racing is threatened. What does this have to do with a guy taking over a betting shop by force and having a gang of goons do his dirty work? He finds dirt on his victims and threatens them with exposure, but with Sid, the exposure is a sham to shut him up. Here is a good look at the justice system which exposes an accused member to press and community derision without even a charge being laid. Think it’s not true? Think it can’t happen in your neighborhood? All it takes is a bully and people not willing to stand up to the consequences.

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*Starred Review* In the steeplechase world, “refusal” means that a horse will not take a jump. Dick Francis’ son Felix, collaborator with his father on several novels and now the heir to his father’s line of mysteries, extends the equestrian definition to the massively banged-up (physically and emotionally) Sid Halley, who stars in a Francis novel for the first time since 2006. Halley, a champion steeplechase jockey who lost his left hand to the double whammy of a fall from a horse and an attack by a thug, long ago turned his insider’s knowledge of the racing world into private investigative work. But an intense fear campaign directed at his girlfriend made him retire from the track altogether at the end of Under Orders. When the chairman of the British Racing Authority asks Halley to investigate his strong suspicion that races are being fixed, Halley refuses. Even after the chairman is found dead, threats made to Halley’s family, and his daughter placed in danger, Halley still refuses, holding onto the safety of his family, which he knows would be blown apart by his investigating the case. What finally tips Halley into changing his mind is entirely convincing, even though it ratchets up the danger for Halley and his family. This is fascinating reading on every level, from the neatly calibrated plot, moving from suspense to terror, to all the details of the racing world Francis provides. Halley is now, as before, an utterly complex, interest-holding character. And the final, moral turn that Francis makes of “refusal” is brilliant. A heroic return for Sid Halley. –Connie Fletcher –This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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