10 lb. Penalty

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Overview

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.

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10 lb Penalty

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425197455
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 251,262
  • Product dimensions: 4.29 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Dick Francis

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.

Biography

Dick Francis was born in Lawrenny, South Wales in 1920. He served in the Royal Air Force for six years during World War II, piloting fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster between 1943 and 1946.

Following the war, Francis, the son of a jockey, became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing. He won more than 350 races, was Champion Jockey in 1953-1954, and was retained as jockey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for four seasons, 1953 through 1957. Francis rode eight times in the world famous Grand National Steeplechase, and nearly won in 1956 when his horse, the Queen Mother's Devon Loch, a few strides away from victory with a clear field, suddenly collapsed. This incident, which Francis calls "both the high point and low point of my career as a jockey," was the impetus for him to begin a second career as a writer. Shortly after the incident, a literary agent approached Francis about writing an autobiography.

In 1957, Francis suffered another serious fall and was advised to retire from race riding. He completed his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, which was published later that year, and accepted an invitation to write six features for the London Sunday Express. He stayed on as the newspaper's racing correspondent for 16 years.

Sports writing soon led to fiction writing, which in turn led to a string of bestselling novels. His first, Dead Cert, was published in 1962. His 36th novel, 10 Lb. Penalty, was published in the U. S. by G. P. Putnam's Sons in September 1997. In addition to his novels and autobiography, Francis has also published a biography of Lester Piggott, A Jockey's Life, and eight short stories. He has edited (with John Welcome) four collections of racing stories, and has contributed to anthologies and periodicals.

Francis's books have been bestsellers in a number of countries, and have been translated into more than 30 languages, including all European languages, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Bantu, and several dialects of Chinese. Each of his novels has also been recorded on audio in both Britain and the United States.

Francis was made an Officer of the most noble Order of the British Empire in 1984, and was awarded the British Crime Writers Association silver dagger in 1965, gold dagger in 1980 and Cartier diamond dagger for his life's work in 1990. The recipient of three Edgar Allen Poe Awards for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, most recently for 1995's Come to Grief, Francis is the only person to have been awarded the prestigious award more than once. The Mystery Writers of America named Francis Grand Master for his life's work in 1996, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University in 1991.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sir Richard Stanley Francis (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 31, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tenby, Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales
    1. Date of Death:
      February 14, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

On Sunday, September 21st, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Dick Francis to discuss 10 LB. PENALTY.


Moderator: Welcome to barnesandnoble.com, Mr. Francis. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Dick Francis: It is nice to here.


Cynthia McGinnes from Maryland: How does Dick Francis choose the names for the horses in his books? There are so many horses racing that it must be hard to come up with a name that doesn't actually belong to a real horse.

Dick Francis: Well, it is difficult to say. You might see something on the back of a truck. There might be horses that I've known in the past and the combination of the names. It is difficult to say, I couldn't say definitely.


Chris B. from New York: Mr. Francis, I heard on an unofficial Web site that was dedicated to you that 10 LB. PENALTY would be your last book. Is this true?

Dick Francis: At the moment, probably. When I wrote TO THE HILT, I thought that was going to be the last book. It is hard work, and as the years go past it is harder and harder.


Mark Eichel from Pembroke Pines, FL: Mr. Francis, I have enjoyed reading all of your books through the years. How long does it take you from start to finish for each novel?

Dick Francis: The actual writing takes five months, but I usually finish each novel by the end of May. Then the fall comes, and I start researching the next one; then I start to write as soon after the New Year as I possibly can, and I usually finish towards the end of May.


Flo from Washington, D.C.: What writers influenced your writing? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Dick Francis: Well I don't know about anybody at the moment, but the writers who influenced me were Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series, and Edgar Wallace, who wrote in England between the wars. THE CALENDAR and THE CRIMSON CIRCLE were two I really liked.


Eliza Sells from Novi, MI: I have no question, just a word of thanks to an author who has brought myself, my family, and friends many years of joy. We look forward every year for Mr. Francis's new book, and the wait has never been wasted. Thank you for all the great stories. We reread them constantly.

Dick Francis: It is lovely to hear such kind things. It gives me encouragement for future stories.


David from Atlantic City, NJ: Hello, Mr. Francis. I am a big fan of yours! I just wanted to ask you if you still ride horses. Do you still do any racing?

Dick Francis: I go to races quite often as a spectator, but I haven't ridden horses for the last five years. There are hardly any decent horses to ride in the Caribbean, and no thoroughbreds -- I like to ride thoroughbreds. Unfortunately, there is no racing there, either. I try to go to the races wherever my travels take me.


MaryBeth Hearn from Nacogdoches, Texas: My high school students love your novels, and we have a reserve list on my desk for your new book. The question I have is one my students frequently ask me about your books. Why don't you return to your protagonists more often? Some of your protagonists are so interesting, they often seem to deserve a second book to continue their story. Let me congratulate you on your wonderful books. You have helped me teach more about the enjoyment of literature than you could ever know.

Dick Francis: I have returned three times with Sid Halley and Kit Fielding, who appeared in BREAK IN and BOLT. I don't think I am a born writer, and writing about a character's characteristics help fill up the book.


Peggy Butkier from Mohegan Lake, NY: My favorite character is Kit Fielding. Do you have a favorite character or book? Why are some characters recurring and others not?

Dick Francis: Well, usually the favorite character is the main character of my last story. Right now it is Benedict Juliard, who appears in 10 LB PENALTY. I have a great affection for James Tyrone, who appeared in FORFEIT. He was a Sunday newspaper man, and I was a Sunday newspaper man at the time I was doing it; it was very autobiographical, I am afraid. It was also the first one that I won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for.


Mary Lynne Paris from Gwparis@aol.com: I've been a fan forever and loved your book bringing Sid Halley back. It was terrific. Have you ever considered reaching back to the character in FOR KICKS for a follow-up story -- his return after so many years undercover? It has always been one of my favorite stories. Keep writing for all us fans!

Dick Francis: I haven't considered bring him back. The only ones I have thought about bringing back, I have brought back.


Cicely from Winter Haven, FL: I have enjoyed your books so much. I believe you are the most literate writer writing today. Please don't stop. How about another Sid Halley story?

Dick Francis: Well, I have already answered that. I don't think I will bring him back again; I already have brought him back enough.


Monroe from New Orleans, LA: Mr. Francis, can you please describe the experience when you were champion jockey in 1953?

Dick Francis: It is difficult to describe. It was a wonderful season I had, the best I ever had had. The season starts in August, and I was leading the jockeys table until the end; toward the end I crushed a vertebra in my back, and I was concerned about my lead, but nobody was able to catch me. It was my first season riding for Peter Cazelet. He trained horses owned by the queen, and it meant I was riding her horses quite frequently, and she could come racing quite frequently.


MC from Chicago: Have you ever considered narrating your own book for an audiotape?

Dick Francis: Well, they are all on audiotape, both here in the U.S. and out in England. In England they do them from the book exactly, but over here, some do abridge them; I don't have anything to do with that. I would rather a professional do that job.


Peggy Butkier from Mohegan Lake, NY: I think one of the best things about your books is that they can be read more than once. You can always pick up one of your books and read it again and again, like an old friend.

Dick Francis: Lots of people tell me that, and it is very rewarding to hear this. Some people tell me soon after a book comes out that they read my book in four hours, and I think, Oh, my God, all that work in four hours. But they say they will read it again, to appreciate the finer points. Lots of people get hooked on the first couple of paragraphs, which is how I try to grab them.


JWCYMCA@AOL.com: Mr. Francis, I'm curious to know, of all the literary achievements you have accomplished, which are you most proud of?

Dick Francis: I am most proud of the Grand Master award, made possible by the Mystery Writers of America -- in 1996, this was. This is the American award. I also received the Diamond Dagger, which I won over in England. I have also been lucky enough to receive the O.B.E.; the Queen gave me the honor at Buckingham Palace in 1984. The Diamond Dagger was about eight years ago.


Marshall Skimerhorn from Warrenville, Ill.: Are your books as popular in England, and does the royal family read them?

Dick Francis: Yes they are as popular in England, but there are not as many people in England. 10 LB. PENALTY has been on the London Times bestseller list for the past two weeks -- it went straight to number one. Yes, the Queen and the Queen Mother read them; I always let them have a copy, and they always remark favorably about them. Other members of the royal family have read them as well.


Mary Lou Rooney: I have read your books to the point that they fell apart. You're a great teller of stories. Thank you.

Dick Francis: It must be the paperback version. I hope the hardcovers don't fall apart. Of course, they are published in 34 languages.


Matthew from Chicago, IL: Mr. Francis, having written about politics in England with 10 LB. PENALTY, what is your opinion of the current state of politics in England? I know it is kind of a broad question, but just an overall thought?

Dick Francis: I am afraid I don't like politics. I don't really like politicians. One shouldn't say that, so perhaps I better not comment any more. I like the recent prime minister in England, John Major; it was meeting him that gave me the idea for 10 LB PENALTY.


Georgia Oltman from Chenoa, Illinois: Please don't let this be your last book.

Dick Francis: It might be, but I won't promise it....


Jennie_Sue from Ohio: Your books are all in first person, from a male point of view. Will you ever have a female main character?

Dick Francis: I don't think I will have a female main character, because I can't put myself in a female's pants. I find it difficult writing about female characters as it is. I have to rely on my wife for a lot of help for that point of view.


Judy from North Carolina: I am surprised to learn that you do not consider yourself a natural-born writer. I am surprised because I believe you can describe a character or a setting better than any other writer in just one sentence. It has always amazed me, and I find myself reading the sentence over and over again for the pure joy of fine writing. Also, the comforting thing about your books is that there is no doubt that the book will tell a great story. Most authors burn out after a few books, and though they publish, the stories are no good anymore.

Dick Francis: Well, I don't have the education. My main point in life was riding horses until I was forced to give it up in 1957. I had to do something else, and my wife asked me to write an autobiography. I started with that, and it has gone on from there.


Patricia from Chicago: Mr. Francis, have you ever considered writing a book set at a harness track?

Dick Francis: No, I haven't, because I don't know enough about harness racing, but if I want to write about computers or other things I don't know that much about, I have to research the subjects. Harness racing is not a great love of mine, and I don't think I want to write about that. My wife and I have been wine researching for over 50 years, and I did write about that, in PROOF.


Kathleen B. from Fredericksburg, VA: Mr. Francis, I know you must do a lot of research before writing your books and that is why they seem so realistic. In WILD HORSES, your take on the moviemaking industry seemed as though you had some personal experience, however. Have you ever written a screenplay or been involved in the making of a movie?

Dick Francis: No, I haven't been involved. They made a movie of my first book, but I didn't offer advice. For WILD HORSES, my wife and my son and I went to Hollywood, and we did quite a bit of research in the film company. I think it paid off in the story.


Marc Bridie from Houston, Texas: I just want to thank you for coming out with a book about this same time every year. My wife's birthday is at the end of October, and your books are the perfect birthday present! Thank you very much!

Dick Francis: Thank you very much. My publisher likes me to put a book out this time of year to suit the Christmas timing. I am pleased it suits your wife's birthday so well. 10 LB PENALTY has been out in England for three weeks, and it publishes here in New York tomorrow.


BG from Maryland: Why do so many of your books use the same cover except for the title? I understand consistency, but it does get confusing!

Dick Francis: I don't think they have the same cover. They are drawn by the same cover designer, but they are not the same cover, by any means.


Gretchen from Chicago: Mr. Francis, I have enjoyed reading many of your books. For how long did you race before you started writing?

Dick Francis: I was race riding for 11 seasons, and before that I was in the Royal Air Force, but because of the war, I was a late starter.


Julian from Houston, TX: Hello, Mr. Francis. Do you have a favorite hero from your past novels? Rob Finn from NERVE ranks up there for me.

Dick Francis: I enjoyed Robb Finn, but as I said before, if I had to choose a character, it would be James Tyrone out of FORFEIT. But my favorite now is Benedict Juliard.


Davis from NYC: Do you have any desire to see your books on the big screen?

Dick Francis: I would like to see some of my books made into good films, not second-rate films. My first one did not please me at all. I don't write for the screen; I write for people to enjoy reading. And from what I have heard this evening, people seem to enjoy them, so I am very pleased.


Kathleen B. from Fredericksburg, VA: Mr. Francis, of all the books you have written, do you have a personal favorite? I love them all, and whichever one I am currently reading or rereading is always my favorite. Thank you for many hours of enjoyment. I especially like the fact that you make your protagonists responsible adults struggling with questions of ethics or morality.

Dick Francis: Well, I haven't any favorite, as I said earlier. I like the most recent best -- it is living with me more at that time.


Peggy Butkier from Mohegan Lake, NY: I'm interested in how you go about finding information on subjects other than horseracing, such as the liquor industry, in PROOF. I never come away from one of your books without feeling as though I learned something.

Dick Francis: I try to do research as much as I can. For PROOF, my wife and I knew a wine merchant, and she was a great help. We have been researching wine for 50 years. When I wrote of commercial banking, or investment banking, as they say over here, we have great friends who were investment bankers, and he was a great help. I researched at his office in London. When I do write about something on which I am not up to date, I send it to the person who helped me before I send it to the publisher. I am pleased to say that nobody has said anything was wrong. My wife loves to research.


Eileen from Evanston, Ill.: I've enjoyed your books for over ten years. What other authors can you recommend to your readers who we might enjoy as much as we enjoy your books?

Dick Francis: How about P. D. James? I like Ed McBain, and I also like Patricia Cornwell, who writes some good stories. Tom Clancy writes some great big books, and they take a bit of reading, but he does great research. I have recently read NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, an American's amusing views of life in Britain, by Bill Bryson. It has been at the top of the nonfiction lists in the London Sunday Times for the last 12 months. It is very, very funny.


Colleen Prohammer from Naperville, IL: Thank you for your gracious note. How did you happen to choose the Cayman Islands for your retirement?

Dick Francis: It is not my retirement -- I am still working very hard. We knew somebody who lived there and fell in love with it. A year later, we went back for holiday and decided to spend all of our time in the Cayman Islands. It is very peaceful and ideal fo writing stories. I walk about the beach early every morning, and I go swimming every day, and the Cayman people are a charming group. My wife and I cannot see ourselves returning to Britain to live ever again. My wife has asthma, and it affects her when it is cold.


Amy from Zeeland, MI: I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your books. I feel like I have become an expert in horse racing in England. Thank you very much for all the enjoyment you have given your readers.

Dick Francis: I am writing about a subject which I know. I still keep in touch with racing in England when I am over there. I have the England papers sent to me, and I keep in touch with what is happening. And my son owns a racing transport company.


Jody Skimerhorn from Warrenville, Ill.: I have read every one of your books several times. All my friends and I buy the books the day they come out and read them immediately. This is because they are too fascinating to put down. You are the greatest author of our time, and I wish you would write another 50 books. You are number one on my list. Thank you for hours of enjoyment.

Dick Francis: Thank you very much, but I can't see myself writing another 50 -- I am getting too old.


Moderator: Thank you for being here, Mr. Francis! Any final comments?

Dick Francis: I am delighted with the number of people who read my books, and see how pleased you all are. I wish I could write another 50. Thank you!


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