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Author: Dick Francis


His first book was his autobiography, The Sport of Queens (1957), which led to him becoming the racing correspondent for the London Sunday Express, a position he held for 16 years. In 1962, he published his first thriller, Dead Cert, set in the world of racing. Subsequently, he regularly produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, missing only 1998 (during which he published a short-story collection). Although all his books were set against a background of horse racing, his heroes held a variety of jobs from artist (To the Hilt) to private investigator (Odds Against). Francis is the only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best Novel, winning for Forfeit in 1970, Whip Hand in 1981, and Come to Grief in 1996. Also in 1976 he was given the Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the MWA. Graham Lord's 1999 unauthorised biography, Dick Francis: A Racing Life, suggested that his books had in fact been written by Francis' wife, Mary. [1] Whether true or not, by all accounts Mary did much of the research and editing of Francis' later novels and stories, and often worked collaboratively with her husband on each book's actual composition. After Mary's death in the year 2000, Francis wrote no new works until Under Orders (a racing term for when the horses are at the start and subject to the starter's orders), released in September 26, 2006.[2] His next two books, "Dead Heat" in 2007 and "Silks" in 2008 were co-written by his son Felix. Dick Francis' manager (and research assistant on the new books) is his son Felix, who left his well-paid post as a teacher of A Level Physics at a UK private school (Bloxham School in Oxfordshire) in order to work for his father and who was the inspiration behind a leading character in the novel Twice Shy. His other son, Merrick, formerly a racehorse trainer, later ran his own horse transport business, thus inspiring the novel Driving Force. A typical book would follow this basic premise: With the exception of the stories in Field Of Thirteen and Twice Shy , they are told through the eyes of one character in the first person. Twice Shy had two characters - brothers, but about ten years difference between them - the first part is told by the older brother and the second part is told by the younger brother, some fifteen years later. The narrators generally have some professonal involvement in the racing world - jockey, trainer, owner - with some exceptions, for instance the character of Tony Beach, the narrator of Proof is a wine merchant, and his relationship to the racing world was through his father, who had been a trainer, but Tony often acted as wine merchant to racing-related functions. In the case of Neil Griffon, narrator of Bonecrack, he's an accountant who takes over his father's racing stables when his father is rushed to hospital. A typical story sees the narrator going about his business - then strange deaths start to occur or strange scams which he investigates - along the way, he finds himself looking death in the face - being shot at is a common theme, being run down, nearly kicked to death by the villains or a horse, also the villains often start out as his friends or trusted allies. Along the way, if he isn't already married, he meets a girl and they get together - he brings the villains to justice and it's left to the reader's imagination if they live happily ever after as a couple.


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