SECOND WIND by Dick Francis


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Francis celebrates his 40th horses-plus suspenser by taking his hero on a vacation in the Caribbean—into the eye of a hurricane that will lead him to still deeper mysteries. Perry Stuart doesn’t just read the weather report for the BBC; he’s a meteorologist and Ph.D. physicist whose predictions are followed religiously by (of course) racehorse owners all over England. But Caspar Harvey is in no position to take advantage of Perry’s clear-and-fast forecast for an upcoming race date; his prize filly’s come down with a mysterious ailment. Nothing daunted despite his beloved grandmother’s heebie-jeebies, Perry takes off with his friend and colleague Kris Ironside, a daredevil amateur pilot, for Grand Cayman, where Harvey’s friend, American mushroom grower Robin Darcy, has bought an airplane Kris can borrow to satisfy a long-held dream: flying through Category-3 Hurricane Odin. Francis (Field of Thirteen, 1998, etc.) does a masterly job building portents of doom through the first third of this adventure, and no one but Perry will be surprised when the flight maroons him back on Trox Island, a tiny scrap of land he’d explored briefly with Kris on Robin’s behalf as the price of borrowing the aircraft. But with Perry’s rescue from the island, the mode of the story shifts abruptly from suspense to mystery, as threats to life and limb give way to a series of riddles. What errand did Robin want Kris to run on the island? What’s the meaning of the coded figures Perry found inside a locked safe during his stay? What claims does Robin’s Unified Trading Company (whose members seem to include virtually every member of the small cast) have on the island? Why is Perry, days after his rescue, now taking sick? And what does his illness have to do with the malady that sidelined that filly? Urgent questions, all of them, answered with of all Francis’s usual unobtrusive technical mastery—even if fans looking for the thrills he more often provides think the action here trails off long before the finish line.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14562-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999


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