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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,525 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Dick Francis, Felix Francis Narrator: Martin Jarvis Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2009 ISBN: 9781101079522
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On the first day of Royal Ascot, the world’s most famous horse race, the crowd rejoices in a string of winning favorites. Ned Talbot has worked all his life as a bookmaker, taking over the family business from his grandfather, so he knows not to expect any sympathy from the punters as they count their winnings—and he his losses. He’s seen the ups and downs before but, as the big gambling conglomerates muscle in on small concerns like his, Ned wonders if it’s worth it anymore.

When a gray-haired man steps forward from the crowd claiming to be his father, Ned’s life is thrown into far deeper turmoil. He’d been told since he was a baby that his parents had died in a car crash. Barely an hour later, his newly found father is stabbed by an unknown assailant in the Ascot parking lot. Blood oozing from his abdomen, his father warns Ned to “be very careful.” But of what? Of whom?

Ned soon finds himself in a race to solve his father’s riddle—a race where coming in second could cost him more than money ... it could cost him his life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “With wit and an expert’s understanding of both horses and homicide, the Francises will keep you riveted.”

    People

  • “A taut crime thriller.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Martin Jarvis does his usual sterling work with the latest Dick and Felix Francis racing mystery…Jarvis is exceptional at creating multiple distinctive characters—the ‘delinquent’ techie Dougie is a particular joy.”

    AudioFile

  • “Francis again delivers stunning plotting, a vivid setting, and crisp characterization.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “This third father-and-son coauthored novel…will appeal to mystery lovers and Francis fans who like a suspenseful story with an upbeat ending.”

    Library Journal

  • “A blissfully satisfying blend of suspense, revenge, and horse-racing info…A multilayered mystery that’s presumably Felix Francis’ distinctive contribution to his father’s legendary series.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Osborne | 2/17/2014

    " Another enjoyable romp from Francis and son, this one involving a bookie who suddenly finds out the father the thought long dead is not only alive but involved in a scheme to switch horses for fraud. Some great characters, especially Ned's workers Luka and Duggie and his wife, who is suffering from mental problems. Not quite as tight as "Silks", but a good read nonetheless. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 2/14/2014

    " More about the betting side of horses than the actual running of them. First Dick Francis mystery I've read that didn't have a jockey as the main character. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rita | 2/12/2014

    " Terrible. Lots of explanation about English paramutuals that are mind-boggling and have to bearing on the story. Never connected with the protagonist "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ralph McEwen | 2/9/2014

    " This story is told from the perspective of a legal bookie in England with a mentally ill wife. The use of high tech equipment (RFID, Internet, mobile phones) added nicely to the story and the inside veiw of the betting world was most interesting. I throughly enjoyed this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 2/1/2014

    " I liked this one. Lots of twists. I might want to read others in this series. Certainly it would be best to read all of his books in order, even though this did read well on its own. Learned a lot about horse racing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lorraine | 1/27/2014

    " This book explains the bookie business at the race tracks in England, and how the odds are manipulated and side bets are made so that bookies don't suffer great losses. It was not one of the better of the Dick and Felix Francis books, but I enjoyed it all the same. The central character, Ned Talbot, meets a man at Royal Ascot races who claims to be his father. Ned thought his father had been dead since he was a toddler, so had a hard time believing this, but just as he was being convinced, the man is murdered in the racetrack car park. Ned investigates his father's business, discovers his dad was a crooked bookie and involved in a scheme to change the identity of race horses with sensing chips injected under the horses' skin. He's also dealing with his wife, Sophie, who is mentally ill. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 1/22/2014

    " This is the first book by Dick Francis that I have read. It's a good thriller. Unlike other men's adventures/thrillers it's realistic. I didn't understanding everything about the betting but there isn't too much of it to worry about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 1/18/2014

    " Why did I stop reading Dick Francis? Maybe it's about time that I go back and start over from the beginning. The perfect read for when you're waiting for the novocaine to wear off and are doped up on pain killers... or a good beach read too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen wadey | 12/13/2013

    " Good typical Dick Francis - intriguing read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deborah | 10/30/2013

    " Typical Francis. Had a few unexpected twists in the plot. A great easy read for the summer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jcurmudge | 10/9/2013

    " A fascinating read about an English Bookie whose life history is very complicated. Some insight into the business of the independent on-site bookie while he tries to discover why his father, who he has never known, shows up and is almost immediately murdered. His wife is bi-polar. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauri | 3/10/2013

    " enjoyed until the last section and then it went downhill. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maurynne | 2/24/2013

    " Has the tough guy attitude of Dick Francis' earlier books. Very readable, but not one of my favorites...I think it will make many other fans happy, though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nina | 2/22/2013

    " The main character didn't have enough personality to make the book interesting, and had too many troubled relatives. How much illness and violent death can one family have before the book becomes totally unbelievable? Also, too little mystery, too much violence and a too many racecourses. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 2/10/2013

    " Dick Franicis' son Felix helped write this book. It's great and of course about horses. This time about bookmakers in England and the "fixing" of the odds. Good story, just a little language and the knid of good ending I like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Al Stoess | 1/20/2013

    " Very interesting. Felix Francis is keeping the Francis books coming. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pam Oconnor | 12/23/2012

    " This is the first book written by Dick and his son that I have been disappointed in. The story was kind of unbelievable as were the characters. I have always loved his books. I have one more to read--we'll see how that one measures up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 11/10/2012

    " Learn about bookmaking...the horsey kind... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susanne | 5/1/2012

    " Not nearly as good as his other books. Disappointing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie | 2/17/2012

    " I always love Dick Francis books, even though they are formulaic. This one was centered on the horse track gambling, told from the perspective of a bookie. Interesting side plot involving a manic depressive wife. A couple plot holes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg Davies | 12/24/2011

    " Another quality Francis read. How does this man do it? Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doreen | 11/1/2011

    " is still as good as the old original dick francis with his wife helping "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie | 10/25/2011

    " I loved this story. I did not really understand the betting and odds but that did not matter because I did love the characters. I also loved the story and the premise...tons of suspense though...I had to put it down because I was getting to nervous a couple of times! But I am a big chicken! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mom | 10/21/2011

    " Dick Francis has written so successfully for so many years that his books really have become formulaic. This one followed the formula and is OK, but just lacks the energy of his older works. I'll always want to read his books but they've really become mind candy rather than keeper books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Betty | 8/7/2011

    " Too little story and too much detail of the betting system in England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff Crosby | 7/13/2011

    " This book follows the typical Francis formula.This is the first time I remember a bookmaker being the protagonist. Strengths:several interesting characters, good pacing, interesting premise. Weakness: too many villans muddles the resolution. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Craig | 5/28/2011

    " Not great, but better than the first two father/son collaborations. The narrator isn't nearly as interesting or as developed as those in Francis' solo efforts, but a better than the other two, as is the plot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 5/22/2011

    " More about the betting side of horses than the actual running of them. First Dick Francis mystery I've read that didn't have a jockey as the main character. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 4/23/2011

    " This is the first book by Dick Francis that I have read. It's a good thriller. Unlike other men's adventures/thrillers it's realistic. I didn't understanding everything about the betting but there isn't too much of it to worry about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tony | 3/16/2011

    " Good Old Dick Francis! His second last book..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 3/14/2011

    " The Dick Francis novels are always good. No matter when they are written, they aren't "dated". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sho | 3/12/2011

    " The last collaboration, I think, before Dick Francis died. It has good reviews so I'm hopeful this one will jog along as well as the last one (Silks which I thought would make an excellent film or TV miniseries).

    And having finished it - it was great. Loved it. Very pacy.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jodi | 2/15/2011

    " I enjoy reading Dick Francis books and this one did not disappoint. It was his usual easy reading, but I loved the mystery of who killed the dad and the twists and turns that ended up going with it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 1/30/2011

    " Despite my dyscalculia I enjoyed the numeric aspects of the story because I could look at the handy sizing chart provided to find the relative direction of change between any two betting odds, which was the relevant point rather than any real value. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caryn | 1/13/2011

    " I agree that this one still doesn't quite have the old Dick Francis magic but it's tons better than Silks. Ned Talbot is more like Francis' usual hero. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tuuli | 12/3/2010

    " Pretty entertaining, and I liked the 'twist' at the end. Everything nicely wrapped up and all loose ends tied. A nice, easy read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mandy | 11/23/2010

    " It was fun and good-paced book. Interesting twists and a very believable character. Also enjoyable even if you don't know much about horse racing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 10/24/2010

    " Good typical Dick Francis - intriguing read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 10/19/2010

    " I like Dick Francis--quick reads, interesting facts about horse racing and usually, a good mystery. "

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About the Author
Author Dick Francis

Dick Francis, (1920–2010) a former champion steeplechase jockey, was the author of many bestselling mysteries set in the world of horse racing. The only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for best novel, his awards include the Gold Dagger, the Cartier Diamond Dagger, the MWA’s Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement, an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University of Boston, and in 2000 he received a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

About the Narrator

Martin Jarvis, OBE, has recorded more than 150 Just William stories for the BBC. These have become international audio bestsellers. He won the Theatre World Award for his starring role on Broadway in By Jeeves; his West End appearances include works by Ayckbourn, Frayn, Pinter, and Wilde. Screen successes include everything from Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who, and Numb3rs to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Oscar-winning Titanic.