Silks by Dick Francis and Felix Francis. This second Francis father-son collaboration is an improvement over last year’s restaurant-and-racing-themed Dead Heat with more suspense and a better villain, though long-time readers of the series may accurately solve the puzzle well before the end. The book’s title not only refers to the brightly colored attire seen on the horse racing tracks, but to the more somber robes worn in the courtroom as the theme this time is the British legal system. Our hero, narrator, and sleuth is defense barrister and amateur jockey Geoffrey Mason. When another jockey is accused of murdering one of his rivals, Mason is blackmailed into taking the case and intentionally losing it. Convinced that his client is being framed, Mason rebels against the man whispering his threats over the phone and sets out to uncover the real motive and criminal behind the murder. Along the way, Mason finds that his widower’s heart is ready, after seven years of hibernation, for romance once again in the form of an equine veterinarian.

This title, like almost all of Francis’ previous works, is fast-paced and filled with interesting bits of information related to its non-racing theme. Readers will learn a considerable amount about British legal procedure, its history and how it differs from its American and European counterparts. What makes this book special however is the character of Julian Trent, a violent and intelligent criminal who serves as enforcer for the mastermind behind the scenes. Trent’s relentless and vicious cold-hearted brutality and his ability to appear unexpectedly keep Mason, and readers, on edge. Readers are given two climaxes, one within the courtroom and one much more personal.


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