Friday, July 11, 2008
Dick Francis writes on
Dick Francis retired from writing after the publication of Shattered in 2000. His wife Mary—who acted as his researcher and editor—had died, and he decided that the time had come to take it easy. So it was quite a surprise when, in 2006, the manuscript of Under Orders appeared in our office. We loved it; it was the Dick Francis at his best, featuring jockey-turned-investigator Sid Halley, his long-time series hero. The word on the street was that Francis's son Felix had taken on the role Mary used to play, and sure enough, the latest, Dead Heat, is officially listed as written by "Dick Francis and Felix Francis." And it's still got that old magic. This time our hero is a chef named Max Moreton, and we go inside restaurant kitchens and concert halls (Max's girlfriend is a violist) and, in keeping with the Francis tradition of horses, to a polo match. Our British office read this one before we did, and they pointed out the one thing that makes a Francis book a Francis book: the charm of the narrator. Dick and Felix working together are keeping that charm as dazzling as ever. It's nice to know there's still a few reliable things in the world.