A jockey is forced to investigate a murder by a violent criminal.
Champion jockey Harry Radcliffe already has a past with Jake Smith, who forced Harry to find the killer of his prostitute sister, Jo-Jo (Dead on Course, 2015, etc.). When Harry makes a nonprofessional visit to Alice, another working girl Jo-Jo knew, he finds her murdered as well. Harry assumes Jake is the killer until Jake hijacks him, swears he didn’t kill Alice, and says he wants Harry to find the real murderer. Even though his estranged wife, Annabel, is pregnant by another man, Harry still loves her, and Jake’s threats to kill both of them if he doesn't cooperate drive him to investigate Alice’s death. Beginning with Alice’s select list of clients, many of them friends of Harry, and some hints from Jake, Harry embarks on a desperate search for the killer. Because Jake tops the police list of suspects, Harry finds him a place to hide and returns to his racing career while searching for clues. When a racing accident puts him in the hospital for several days, he’s unable to supply Jake with provisions and is nearly killed by the enraged psychopath on his return. Still, he has no choice but to carry on to protect Annabel. Although he has friends who are willing to help, the dirt he digs up includes shocking news about his own family, and he finds that Jake’s not the only person who might like to see him dead.
Prior knowledge of the first two volumes in this series would undoubtedly make this complicated tale of racing, violence, and murder easier to follow. Rest easy, Dick Francis: you’re still way out in front.