In lieu of his annual novel (10 Lb. Penalty, 1997, etc.), horse racing’s gift to the mystery offers his fans his first collection of shorts, including five colts appearing in their first event and eight fillies who’ve been around the track once or twice. Most of the new stories are horsey parables of revenge. A small-town newspaper editor plots against the restaurant that humiliated his guests; a mild expatriate Brit patiently pursues legal remedies against the lawyer who swindled him out of the bail money he put up for an acquaintance; a couple of means gets even with the social-climbing daughter who neglected her mother, their faithful groom; a timely accident puts paid to the plans of a hit man and the jockey who hired him. The last story, —Haig’s Death,— about the effects of a race judge’s fatal heart attack on the owners of the entrants, is the most original. But Francis fans won’t be looking for originality here; they’ll be content with the brisk authority with which the author sets up his familiar types for a series of falls as satisfying as they are predictable.