Read Whip Hand by Dick Francis Free Online
Book Title: Whip Hand|
The author of the book: Dick Francis
ISBN 13: 9780425203545
Edition: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Date of issue: June 7th 2005
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.85 MB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2525 times
Reader ratings: 5.8
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Winning was all. Winning was my function. What I was there for. What I wanted. What I was born for.
In the dream, I won the race. The shouting turned to cheering, and the cheering lifted me up on its wings, like a wave. But the winning was all; not the cheering. I woke in the dark, as I often did, at four in the morning.
There was silence. No cheering, just silence.
I could still feel the way I moved with the horse, the ripple of muscle through both of the striving bodies, uniting in one. I could still feel the irons round my feet, the calves of my legs gripping, the balance, the nearness to my head of the stretching brown neck, the mane blowing in my mouth, my hands on the reins.
There came, at that point, the second awakening. The real one. The moment in which I first moved and opened my eyes, and remembered that I wouldn’t ride any more races, ever.
Sid Halley is the quintessential Francis hero. It is no surprise for me that in a long list of stand-alone novels, he is the only one to be given a second and third chance in the limelight. He is probably the closest the author has come to talk about himself, about the former top steeplechase jockey whose whole life turned around the racing track, who was forced to give up the love of his life and start a new career. And who brought to this new career all the will to get to the top, all the dedication and the professionalism that defined him on the back of a horse.
This particular novel has an additional personal appeal to me, as it is the very first thriller by Dick Francis that I ever read, back in the early 1990’s. Twenty five years later, I am still one of the faithfull fans of the author.
Sid Halley has been forced out of his chosen profession by a horrible accident that mauled his ‘whip hand’. In his first novel (Odds Against), he is trying to deal with the trauma, and to find a new purpose in life by joining a private investigation agency focusing on the racing world. In the beginning of this second novel, Sid is still investigating crooks and liars around the racetrack, is self-employed, and rather too well appreciated for his success. This fame and his rate of success translates in the bad guys trying to drive him out by threats and physical violence.
As you can see from my opening quote, the thriller is written in the first person narrative, and a liking for the protagonist is key to the enjoyment of the ride. When I try to picture Sid in my mind, I’m thinking of one of those ‘tall-in-the-saddle’ cowboy heroes of the 50’s, like Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck. The quiet types, unassuming, soft spoken and serious, but unbending and relentless in the pursuit of justice. Sid may be viewed as bad news by the rascals he chases, but in his own mind he is daily battling with feelings of inadequacy, with loneliness and regrets over his broken marriage, with the empty places left in his life after he was exiled from the racetrack
- When you look at me, what do you see?
- You know what I see.
- Do you see a lot of fears and self doubts, and feelings of shame and uselessness and inadequacy?
- Of course not, you never show feelings like that.
- No one does. Everyone has an outside and an inside, and the two can be quite different. [...] To myself, I’m a jumble of uncertainty and fear and stupidity.
I believe Sid is saved by this very insecurity, which pushes him to try harder and to fight back. I also admire his stoicism, his sense of humour, and his curiosity about the world and the people he meets. In a cynical world that eyes only profit and where the end justifies the evil means used to achieve it, Sid is a breath of fresh air and hope in the chance of the underdog to bring down the fat cats of business.
I will not go into details about the plot, it is good and clever but not exceptional. Three separate lines of investigation weave in and out of focus: the mysterious death of champion colts, an internal investigation of corruption at the top level of the Jockey Club and a private request from Sid’s former wife to unmask a confidence trickster. The obligatory scenes of brutality and physical injury are starting to annoy me a bit, after encountering them in every single novel by Francis that I read, but they serve their purpose in the plot and in separating the bad guys from the good guys.
In conclusion, my rating is a subjective (rabid fan) one, but I would recommend the first two Sid Halley novels as a great ‘entry drug’ for readers as yet unfamiliar with the books of Dick Francis.
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Read information about the authorDick Francis CBE (born Richard Stanley Francis) was a popular British horse racing crime writer and retired jockey.
Dick Francis worked on his books with his wife, Mary, before her death. Dick considered his wife to be his co-writer - as he is quoted in the book, "The Dick Francis Companion", released in 2003:
"Mary and I worked as a team. ... I have often said that I would have been happy to have both our names on the cover. Mary's family always called me Richard due to having another Dick in the family. I am Richard, Mary was Mary, and Dick Francis was the two of us together."
* Sid Halley Mystery
* Kit Fielding Mystery
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