Field of Thirteen


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Author: Francis, Dick

Edition: First Edition

Number Of Pages: 287

EAN: 9780399144349

Release Date: 01-11-1998

Languages: English

Item Condition: UsedGood

Binding: Hardcover

Details: Product Description The three-time Edgar Award winner delivers a suspense-driven, finely crafted collection of thirteen short stories, many of them new and not published heretofore, including the story of a middle-aged racehorse owner who unwisely falls in love with her jockey. 250,000 first printing. From Amazon This first collection of short stories by Dick Francis (author of 10 Lb. Penalty and more than 30 other horseracing mysteries) pulls together five new tales with eight that have appeared scattered in periodicals over the last three decades. One of the pleasures of his stories is witnessing the breadth and variety within Francis's racetrack milieu. In "Dead on Red," a jealous jockey named Davey Rockman hires Emil Jacques, a French assassin and gun collector, to kill the famed rider who stole his job; but Rockman is haunted by his deed much in the same way as is the protagonist in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." "Raid at Kingdom Hill" tells of Tricksy Wilcox's scheme for a not-so-bright bomb scare, a plan that still might yield the payoff of a lifetime. "Collision Course" is free of murder but frames a delightful conflict between an out-of-work newspaperman and a bounder whose faux manners threaten to bring him down at the peak of his racing syndicate career. The Kentucky Derby story, "The Gift," follows Fred Collyer, a drunken writer who overhears plans for a major racing swindle and struggles against alcohol to publish the story by his deadline. And the collection ends with a what-if story called "Haig's Death" that examines the consequences of the sudden passing of Christopher Haig, an animal feed consultant and race-meeting judge. Poe, who most historians of literature credit as the creator of the short story, declared that a good short story should have nothing extraneous. Francis's stories, for the most part, obey Poe's dictum. Each character and description fits tightly into an unfolding plan so that the mystery or twist is revealed with a satisfying economy of words. While Field of 13 will appeal to Francis loyalists, newcomers, too, will find much to relish in the short fiction of this mystery grand master. --Patrick O'Kelley From Publishers Weekly Though nearly two score of his novels have come to print, Francis has published only eight short stories in his 41 years as a bestselling author. That octet, composed mostly in the 1970s and initially appearing in various journals (Sports Illustrated, the Times of London, etc.), is reprinted here, along with five new tales, each introduced in brief by Francis. There's not a slacker among them, though few champions either. The earliest yarn, "Carrot for a Chestnut," dating from 1970 (eight years after Francis's first novel), is typical, presenting a morally ordered universe in which malefactors get their due, albeit commonly through indirect means. Here, a jockey who bends a race by feeding a horse a drugged carrot receives his comeuppance by losing his concentration as a result of his crime and getting involved in a nasty accident; as in most of the stories, there's a light twist to the ending. Horse racing figures in every entry, of course. Sometimes it's the focus of a crime?as in "Blind Chance," in which a blind boy picks up on how bettors are getting inside info on races with photo finishes. Sometimes, it's only background, as in "Collision Course," about how a fired newspaper editor hoists poetic justice upon a horrid restaurateur/horse trainer. Most of the stories are superficially clever, but below the quick plotting there's emotional depth; in "Spring Fever," for instance, Francis plumbs the innocent desperation of unrequited December-May love. And throughout there is Francis's voice, strong, smart, ironic, developed even at the beginning but maturing in timbre as he hones his skill. Even more than the horse racing, this voice is the tie that binds these 13 tales into a charmed entertainment. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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