10 lb. Penalty

10 lb. Penalty

by Dick Francis

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Overview

10 lb. Penalty by Dick Francis

New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis has been hailed as “a master of understated suspense” (The San Diego Union-Tribune). With this blockbuster 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 dreamt 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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425197455
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2004
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 790,567
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.72(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dick 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. 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.

Hometown:

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

Education:

Dropped out of Maidenhead County School at age 15.

Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Acknowledgements

 
One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

 
New York Times Bestselling Author DICK FRANCIS

“[A] SMOOTH, NIMBLY PACED CHARMER.”

—Publishers Weekly

 
“FAST-PACED.”

—Orlando Sentinel

 
10 LB. PENALTY

 
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 ...

 
“FEW THINGS ARE MORE CONVINCING THAN DICK FRANCIS AT A FULL GALLOP.”

-Chicago Tribune

 
“NOBODY SETS UP A MYSTERY BETTER THAN DICK FRANCIS.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

RAVE REVIEWS FOR DICK FRANCIS

 
“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

A JOCKEY’S LIFE THE SPORT OF QUEENS

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.

 
10 LB. PENALTY

 
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

 
PRINTING HISTORY

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

Jove edition / October 1998

Berkley edition / August 2004

 
 
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®

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, .

 
 
 
 
 
One

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.

Please.

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.

(Continues…)



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Copyright © 2004 Dick Francis.
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Table of Contents

Interviews

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!


Customer Reviews

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10 lb. Penalty 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
tripleblessings on LibraryThing 6 days ago
The young Benedict Juliard loses his chance as a steeplechase jockey because of damaging allegations, and goes to work for his father in a political campaign. Threats to his father's life turn Juliard into a bodyguard and private investigator. One of Francis' most likeable heroes, interesting background, one of my favourites.
Anonymous 14 days ago
Always my favorite author.
Anonymous 14 days ago
Dick Francis has long been one of my favorite authors. I first read this novel when it was initially published and enjoyed it as much then as I did this time. There's a fsir amount of politics in this book in addition to his ubiquitous horses. It as usual the characters felt real and the dialog natural. I'm going to reread another of his mysteries very soon, if not next.
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!