10 lb. Penalty

10 lb. Penalty

4.2 15
by Dick Francis

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A wanna-be jockey accepts a job in his father's campaign for Parliament—and realizes that politics can be the most perilous horse race of all.


A wanna-be jockey accepts a job in his father's campaign for Parliament—and realizes that politics can be the most perilous horse race of all.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A winner in every sense of the word—A Pleasure to Read...A Treat."—Associated Press

"Few things are more convincing than Dick Francis at Full gallop."—Chicago Tribune

The Barnes & Noble Review
Dick Francis is the only author to win more than once the coveted Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. The three-time winner has recently published his 36th novel, 10 LB. Penalty, and created one of his most interesting and unusual characters to date. Benedict Juliard is an aspiring jockey who must bypass his dreams of horse racing to help his father, George, in his quest to enter the world of politics. At 18, the reserved Benedict is asked by his father to enter into a pact: Neither of the two will do anything that could somehow hinder or destroy George's blossoming political career. Young Benedict, who has no stronger ambition than to ride steeplechase as an amateur jockey, agrees to the pact, without possibly knowing what lies ahead.

Twelve years pass, and Ben has since abandoned his dream of making a career on the racetrack. Like his father, Ben enters the political arena, becoming George Juliard's closest ally and most trusted confidant as he makes his move to become prime minister. However, Ben suddenly finds himself the target of a fierce attack brought on by his father's brutally ambitious enemies. Through his son, George Juliard is discredited and destroyed just as he makes his drive for the prime ministership, leading Ben into an existence of treachery and lies.

As these events unfold, Ben quickly realizes that it is his responsibility to protect his father's career as well as his own, but more important, he must protect their lives. Like past Francis books, 10 LB. Penalty is a masterfully plotted mystery thatalsoexamines the power of family and the bond between father and son. It is Francis's continued excellence in writing that led The San Francisco Chronicle to write, "Francis is steadfast and dependable, someone you can always turn to when in need of a rousing good mystery."

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
He may be turning 77 this year, but Francis narrates his new thriller through the eyes of a 17-year-old without missing a stepand, as usual, offers a mini-course in a slightly arcane profession along the way. The profession is British politics. The youth is Ben Juliard, who plans to spend his 'gap year' (between school and university) as an amateur steeplechase jockey. His benevolent but disapproving millionaire father, George, arranges for Ben to be fired, however, and to help him win a by-election to replace a deceased member of Parliament. Having conquered London's financial City, George has designs on Disraeli's greasy pole and wants Ben to be 'a sort of substitute wife. To come with me in public. To be terribly nice to people.' Despite determined enemies (the ambitious widow of the dead legislator, her adviser and a sleazy reporter out for dirt on anyone), and three possible attacks on the Juliards (shooting, car sabotage, arson), George prevails in the vote. Five years later, he's a popular cabinet minister (for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), while Ben has found happiness working in racing insurance and as a successful steeplechaser. A cabinet crisis makes George a leading contender for prime minister, and Ben worries that the unknown previous assailants will try again. They do but, despite some dicey moments, Ben prevails, although not without suffering a major loss. As usual in a Francis novel, the sweetest parts are about family; here, especially the growing love and understanding between father and son. The villains aren't particularly scary, but this smooth, nimbly paced charmer isn't really about bad people anyway, but about how the rest of us cope and live, sometimes in their shadow.
Library Journal
More murderous horseplay from the prolific Francis.
Kirkus Reviews
Pleasing lesser Francis (To the Hilt) that takes its young hero from horse racing to the far rougher world of British politics. Benedict Juliard may be just a boy—he's only 18 when his father arranges for him to be fired from his job as an amateur jockey so Ben can campaign at his side in a Parliamentary by- election—but his talent for listening to people and drawing them out is such a complement to George Juliard's mastery of big-picture rhetoric that he's an unexpected asset on the campaign trail. Unexpected and unwelcome, not only to Paul Bethune, the opposition candidate, and his hapless wife Isobel, but to Orinda Nagle, vitriolic widow of the late MP for Hoopwestern, who can't understand how the nominating committee for her own party could have made the ghastly mistake, darling, of passing her over for Dennis Nagle's vacant seat—and to Alderney Wyvern, once Dennis's close friend, now Orinda's constant, and rather sinister, companion. As George's campaign gathers steam, and Ben basks in the glow of his father's approval—best here is Francis's sharp portrait of instinctive sympathy between the very different father and son—predictable obstacles emerge. Usher Rudd, a muckraker who's been slinging mud against Paul Bethune, turns his attention to George; somebody tries to kill George; and you find yourself settling in happily to a treat of customary Francis thrills and spills. But the campaign turns out to be only Act One; George's victory and Ben's return to racing merely set the stage for anticlimactic Act Two, five years later, when Wyvern and Rudd come blustering back in search of the revenge they're sure they're owed. Though the toothless villainsdeprive the story of any strong sense of direction—a surprising disappointment from reliable Francis—the tale is fleetly and unassumingly told, without any of the excess baggage that has often given the distinguished ex-jockey trouble making weight.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.29(w) x 6.82(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page
















New York Times Bestselling Author DICK FRANCIS


Publishers Weekly



Orlando Sentinel




New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis is “one of our most reliable storytellers, a master of understated suspense” (The San Diego Union-Tribune). With this block-buster novel, he lives up to his dazzling reputation, delivering the compelling story of a father and son who must work together to defeat a deadly adversary ...


Even though Ben Juliard had always dreamed of becoming a jockey, he couldn’t say no when his father—a prominent politician—pulled some strings and got him a job in his campaign for Parliament. Now Ben needs to do more than smile for the cameras. With each step up on the ladder of power come new dangers to the aspiring candidate. And as the mysterious attacks grow ever more lethal, Ben discovers that politics can be the most perilous horse race of all ...



-Chicago Tribune



San Francisco Chronicle



“It’s either hard or impossible to read Mr. Francis without growing pleased with yourself: not only the thrill of vicarious competence imparted by the company of his heroes, but also the lore you collect as you go, feel like a field trip with the perfect guide.”

The New York Times Book Review


“One of the most reliable mystery writers working today ... Francis’s secret weapons are his protagonists. They are the kind of people you want for friends.”

Detroit News and Free Press


“[Francis] has the uncanny ability to turn out simply plotted yet charmingly addictive mysteries.”

The Wall Street Journal


“A rare and magical talent... who never writes the same story twice ... Few writers have maintained such a high standard of excellence for as long as Dick Francis.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune


“Francis just gets better and better ... It can’t be as easy as he makes it look, or all mystery writers would be as addictive.”

The Charlotte Observer


“After writing dozens of thrillers, Dick Francis always retains a first-novel freshness.”

The Indianapolis Star


“He writes about the basic building blocks of life—obligation, honor, love, courage, and pleasure. Those discussions come disguised in adventure novels so gripping that they cry out to be read in one gulp—then quickly reread to savor the details skipped in the first gallop through the pages.”

Houston Chronicle


“Dick Francis stands head and shoulders above the rest.”

Ottawa Citizen

Fiction by Dick Francis



Nonfiction by Dick Francis


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.




A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author



G. P. Putnam’s Sons edition / September 1997

Jove edition / October 1998

Berkley edition / August 2004


Copyright © 1997 by Dick Francis.


All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.


eISBN : 978-1-101-00720-4



Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.



With thanks to my grandson, .












Glue-sniffing jockeys don’t win the Derby.

I’d never sniffed glue in my life.

All the same, I stood before the man whose horses I rode and listened to him telling me he had no further use for my services. He sat behind his large antique paper-covered desk fidgeting with his clean fingernails. His hands were a yellowish white, very smooth.

“I have it on good authority,” he said.

“But I don’t!” I protested in bewilderment. “I’ve never sniffed glue or anything else. Certainly not cocaine. I’ve never even smoked pot. It’s not true.”

He looked at me coldly with the knowing eyes of a rich, powerful, assured and physically bulky man who had inherited a good brain and a chunk of merchant bank, and trained racehorses prestigiously out of obsession.

I was not yet eighteen at that point and, I now know, immature for my age, though of course I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I felt helpless, though, in the face of his inaccurate certainty, and had no idea how to deal with it.

“Sir Vivian ...,” I began with desperation, but he effortlessly cut me off with his heavier authoritative voice.

“You can clear off at once, Benedict,” he said. “I’ll not have my stable contaminated by rumors of a drug-taking jockey, even if he is an amateur and not much good.” He saw me flinch but went on relentlessly. “You’ll never be a top race rider. You’re too big, for one thing, or at least you will be in a year or two, and frankly you look clumsy on a horse. All arms and legs. In your hands, the most collected jumper turns in a sprawling performance. With that and an unsatisfactory reputation ... well, I no longer want you associated with my stable.”

I stared at him numbly, hurt more deeply by his fairly brutal assessment of my lack of riding ability, which could perhaps be substantiated, rather than by the accusations of drug taking, which couldn’t.

Around me the familiar walls of his stable office seemed to recede, leaving me isolated with a thumping heart and no feeling below the ankles. All the framed photographs of past winners, all the bookshelves and the olive green wallpaper faded away. I saw only the stony face spelling out the effective end of my long-held dream of winning all races from the Grand National down.

I expect seventeen is a better age than most to be chopped off at the ambitious knees. It just didn’t feel like it at that moment of the slice of the ax.

“Outside that window,” said Sir Vivian Durridge, pointing, “a car is waiting for you. The driver says he has a message for you. He’s been waiting a good hour or more, while you’ve been out riding exercise.”

I followed the direction of his finger, and saw, some way across the raked gravel of the imposing entrance driveway to his porticoed domain, a large black car inhabited solely by a chauffeur in a peaked cap.

“Who is it?” I asked blankly.

Vivian Durridge either didn’t know or wasn’t telling. He said merely, “On your way out, you can ask him.”

“But, sir ...,” I began again, and dried to fresh silence in the continuing negation of his distrust.

“I advise you to clean up your act,” he said, making a gesture that directed me to leave. “And now, I have work to do.”

He looked steadfastly down at his desk and ignored me, and after a few seconds I walked unsteadily over to the high polished door with its gilded knob and let myself out.

It was unfair. I had not cried much in my life but I felt weak then and near to weeping. No one before had pitilessly accused me of something I hadn’t done. No one had so ruthlessly despised my riding. I still had a thin skin.

No other good trainer would let me into his stable if Vivian Durridge had kicked me out of his.

In a mist of bewildered misery I crossed the wide Durridge entrance hall, made my way through the heavy front door and crunched across the gravel to where the car and chauffeur waited.

I knew neither of them. The August morning sun gleamed on black spotless bodywork, and the chauf feur with the shiny black peak to his cap let down the window beside him and stretched out a black uniformed arm, silently offering me a white unaddressed envelope.

I took it. The flap was only lightly glued. I peeled it open, drew out a single white card from inside, and read the brief message.

Get in the car.

Underneath an afterthought had been added.


I looked back towards the big house from which I’d been so roughly banned and saw Vivian Durridge standing by his window, watching me. He made no movement: no reconsidering action, no farewell.

I understood none of it.

The handwriting on the card was my father’s.


I sat on the backseat of the car for almost an hour while the chauffeur drove at a slow pace through the county of Sussex, south of London, approaching finally the seaside spread of Brighton.

He would answer none of my questions except to say that he was following instructions, and after a while I stopped asking. Short of jumping out and running free at any of the few traffic-light stops, it seemed I was going to go wherever my father had ordained, and as I had no fear of him I would, from long-conditioned habit, do what he asked.

I thought chiefly—and in a mixture of rage and unhappiness—of the scene in Durridge’s study, his words circling endlessly in memory and not getting more bearable as time went on.

The black car drifted past Regency town houses and open-fronted souvenir shops, past old grandeur and new world commercialism, and sighed to a stop on the seafront outside the main door of a large hotel of ancient French architectural pedigree with bright beach towels drying on its decorative wrought-iron balconies.

Porters appeared solicitously. The chauffeur climbed out of his seat and ceremoniously opened the door beside me and, thus prompted, I stood up into the sea air, hearing gulls crying and voices in the distance calling on the wet ebb-tide strand, smelling the salt on the wind and unexpectedly feeling the lift of spirits of the sand-castle holidays of childhood.

The chauffeur made me a small sketch of a bow and pointed at the hotel’s main door, and then, still without explaining, he returned to his driving seat and at a convenient moment inserted himself into the flow of traffic and smoothly slid away.

“Luggage, sir?” one of the porters suggested. He was barely older than I.

I shook my head. For luggage I wore the clothes suitable for first-lot August-morning exercise with the Durridge string: jodhpurs, jodhpur boots, short-sleeved sports shirt and harlequin-printed lightweight zipped jacket (unzipped). I carried by its chin-strap my shiny blue helmet. With a conscious effort I walked these inappropriate garments into the grand hotel, but I needn’t have worried: the once-formal lobby buzzed like a beehive with people looking normal in cutoff shorts, flip-flop sandals and message-laden T-shirts. The composed woman at the reception desk gave my riding clothes an incurious but definite assessment like a click on an identification parade and answered my slightly hoarse enquiry.

“Mr. George Juliard?” she repeated. “Who shall I say is asking for him?”

“His son.”

She picked up a telephone receiver, pressed buttons, spoke, listened, gave me the news.

“Please go up. Room four-twelve. The lift is to your left.”

My father was standing in an open doorway as I walked down a passage to locate four-twelve. I stopped as I approached him and watched him inspect me, as he customarily did, from my dark curly hair (impervious to straightening by water), to my brown eyes, thin face, lean frame, five foot eleven (or thereabouts) of long legs to unpolished boots: not in any way an impressive experience for an ambitious parent.

“Ben,” he said. He breathed down his nose as if accepting a burden. “Come in.”

He tried hard always to be a good father, but gave no weight to my infrequent assurances that he succeeded. I was a child he hadn’t wanted, the accidental consequence of his teenage infatuation with a woman biologically just old enough to be his own mother. On the day I went to Brighton I was almost as old as he had been when he fathered me.

Over the years I’d gleaned the details. There had been a hullabaloo in both extended families when they were told of the pregnancy, an even worse fuss (product of the times) when my mother refused an abortion, and a frosty turning of backs at the hasty (and happy) wedding.

The marriage-day photograph was the only record I had of my mother, who ironically died of preeclampsia at my birth, leaving her very young husband literally holding the baby with his envisaged bright future in ruins, so it was said.

Meet the Author

Dick Francis (pictured with his son Felix Francis) was born in South Wales in 1920. He was a young rider of distinction winning awards and trophies at horse shows throughout the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot, flying fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster.

He became one of the most successful postwar steeplechase jockeys, winning more than 350 races and riding for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. After his retirement from the saddle in 1957, he published an autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write more than forty acclaimed books, including the New York Times bestsellers Even Money and Silks.

A three-time Edgar Award winner, he also received the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Cartier Diamond Dagger, was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2000. He died in February 2010, at age eighty-nine, and remains among the greatest thriller writers of all time.

Brief Biography

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies
Date of Birth:
October 31, 1920
Date of Death:
February 14, 2010
Place of Birth:
Tenby, Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales
Place of Death:
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies
Dropped out of Maidenhead County School at age 15.

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10 lb. Penalty 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree w/ pokemon girl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I choose the unwanted one. :p
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Action, love, and racing!! Hells yes!