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Dick Francis’s Gamble
Felix Francis

2011 / ISBN 9780399157479
Suspense / Amateur Sleuth / England / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: I was standing right next to Herb Kovak when he was murdered.

For Nicholas Foxton risk is part of his life. His career as a jockey ended with an injury that could still cost him his life; his profession as an independent financial advisor has him specializing in extreme-risk investments. His friend, Herb Kovak, current jockey and co-worker is murdered standing right next to him. Was his death due to something in Herb s life, his work or could it have been that the killer had the wrong target.

This first book by Felix Francis literally opens with a bang three of them, in fact and it certainly captured my attention.

The differences between Dick’s and Felix s style are very apparent, which isn’t a bad thing. Felix allows his protagonists to be in active, working relationship; something Dick rarely did. Felix s voice is more cynical. Even though there is a bit of wry humor, which is quite good, it pops up far too seldom. One unfortunately habit he does carry on is the use of unnecessary portents.

The backstory the protagonist and the reason can no long ride is very well done as it adds an excellent level of risk and, when needed, suspense. It’s actually quite an informative book as one learns about the role of an Independent Financial advisor and a variety of interesting topics.

The plotting is decent with very good suspense, action and effective twists. However, because there is so much other expository information, one feels the plot becomes a bit mired down. While the dialogue is quite good, the sense of place is lacking. It feels as though Felix hasn’t quite found his own voice yet. All the elements are there, but that s the problem. There is the sense that he is working from an outline but without an author s internal passion so the story lacks colour and dimension.

Gamble was a good read, but a month after reading it; it is difficult to remember many of the details. I will be interesting to see how Felix Francis progresses from here.

Reviewer's Note: Felix Francis co-wrote four Dick Francis Novels, Dead Heat, Silks, Even Money and Crossfire.
Reviewed 2011
© 2011