Stealing a few hours from Unstable Times, the horsey film he's directing in Newmarket, Thomas Lyon goes to visit his friend Valentine Clark, a blacksmith/columnist dying of cancer, and becomes the reluctant repository of Valentine's confession that he killed that Cornish boy and left the knife with Derry. Cryptic ramblings, thinks Thomas, until Dorothea Pannier, the sister who survived Valentine, is savagely attacked by somebody who's been searching their house for some evidence (a book, a photo, a memorandum?) of Valentine's crime, and Thomas is threatened with death if he doesn't stop work on the film he's making, a fictionalized account of the 26-year-old hanging of Sonia Wells, whose husband, trainer Jackson Wells, the film seems to implicate in her death. There's no shortage of suspects who'd like to see the last of Unstable Times--Sonia's sister Audrey Visborough goes so far as to plant vituperative rumors about Thomas's feud with the screenwriter in a local tabloid, and the rest of the family lines up behind her to sniff their disapproval--but why would any of these prim snobs have stabbed so many people (Dorothea, her supercilious son Paul, Thomas himself) who seem to know nothing about the case? And who are Derry and the Cornish boy, anyway? The lowdown on film direction is fascinating--is there anything, however remotely connected with horses, that Francis isn't an expert on?--but the mystery is muddled and the villains muffled. Coming after the twin peaks of Driving Force (1992) and Decider (1993), this entry marks an off year for Francis and his many fans.