The latest entry in the Dick Francis Stakes is worth a bet.
Jamie Hutchison, once a brilliantly successful jockey, has fallen on hard times. In fact, that’s what he’s just finished doing: 18 months of hard time in Her Majesty’s Prison at Garstone. He’d pleaded guilty to a drunk-driving charge after a horrific accident left Alan Kirkstall, 15, dead at the roadside. Now Jamie’s out, emotionally fragmented, and convinced at 21 that the better part of his life is history. Fortunately, he’s got a sister with pluck and determination enough for two, and Pippa Hutchison refuses to let her brother pull pillows over his head. As a result, Jamie discovers that the kindness of strangers can leaven guilt and that if he can begin to forgive himself, others will follow suit. But not all others. Clem and Joyce Kirstall, Alan’s father and aunt, are devoting their lives to a quest for vengeance. To them, Jamie is a galling reminder that the wrong boy lives and breathes. As Jamie struggles to ride professionally again, the Kirkstalls watch in the wings, baleful as a pair of Iagos. Marie Kirkstall, Alan’s sister, watches as well, though hers is a view more like Juliet’s
Like Francis, Francome (Back Hander, not reviewed, etc.) is an ex–champion jockey. His prose is a bit less stylish than that of Francis, but the storytelling is dead-on.