Things have only just started to get rough for Ned Talbot Before Chapter 1 ends he will learn that his father is actually alive and involved with something deeply shady By the end of Chapter 2 there will be an assault and a murder And by the beginning of Chapter 6 Ned will discover a rucksack with a secret compartment tightly packed with 30000 pounds in cash a mysterious device that looks like a remote control some counterfeit horse papers and a small polythene bag containing what appeared at first to be ten grains of rice but on closer examination were clearly man made They looked like frosted glassMysterious goings on at the track are once again at the center of a Dick Francis novel Some kind of horse switching scam perhaps This rucksack and its contents provide the main narrative engine of Even Money But Francis adds two other subplots of nearly eual importance one focusing on Sophie s fragile mental health especially when under stress and the other involving some mysterious goings on at the track Lately just before certain races all cellphones and computers stop working for five minutes As one would expect by the climax of the novel all three plot lines are brought togetherThough Ned worries about the hospitalized Sophie constantly keeps on the lookout for a shifty eyed murderous man in a hoodie and increasingly uestions what he knows about his own family s past he never neglects his business In the course of Even Money the Francises present an informal introduction to English bookmaking and horse betting Here for instance Ned talks about punters ie gamblersThe most successful are those who know almost every horse in training And they study the races every day They learn over time which horses run consistently to form and which do not They discover which horses prefer right handed tracks and which do better left handed which jumpers like long run ins and which short and whether they are likely to win uphill finishes or flat ones They know if a horse runs above or below par on firm or soft ground and also what weight suits a particular horse and whether to keep away from it in handicaps when it s rated too highly They know where each horse is trained if it runs badly after long journeys in a horsevan and even if a particular horse tends to do better than its rivals in sunshine or in rainAnd if punters know Their Horses The Riders horses the riders trainers know them even better The great jockey Lester Piggott was said to be able to recognize any horse he had ridden even when it was walking away from him in a rainstorm Yet despite all its seeming impossibility Ned gradually realizes that some kind of horse switching scam must lie behind the mysterious contents of the rucksack Can Luca s electronics expertise help solve the mysteryWhile Even Money is an agreeable way to pass a few hours it often feels soft and rather anemic without real driving force Nonetheless the overall tone and sensibility are identifiably Franciscan and longtime fans will enjoy taking a leisurely canter round a familiar track But new readers who want to see Dick Francis at his best should pick up one or two of those early novels They show why Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin among many others so admired Francis s writing After all as any punter knows a Dead Cert is a much better bet than Even Money It was several ears after the death of Dick Francis in 2010that I turned my attention to the books he co wrote with his son Felix Francisand the ones written entirely by Felix himselfBefore FelixDick s co writer used to be his wife MaryBut for several earsshe didn t get any creditAnd then it emerged that all those prim and proper sentences in his books were crafted by Maryand she also helped with the researchShe was described as a literary dark horsea fitting descriptionAfter Mary diedDick Francis still continued to writebut it didn t feel the sameHoweverto the credit of
the father and soneven after Mary s deaththe books are still goodstill father and soneven after Mary s deaththe books are still goodstill Money begins wellwith lots of twists and turnsFor a changethe hero is a bookmakersomething which has never happened in a Francis novel beforeCrooked bookmakers are traditionally the bad guys in his booksBut in Even Money the bookmaker is still a good guyFelix s writing isat timesa bit jarringbut he makes up for that with the flow of the storyThe book remains interesting for the most partAt the startthe protagonist encounters an old manwho claims to be his fatherwhom he has never knownShortly thereafterhis newly discovered father dies The surprise ending in this book certainly gave me a shock. Mpelled to find out exactly what is going on But the he discovers the longer the odds become for his survival.
Free read Even MoneySt juggle his amateur investigations into past and present crimes with his demanding family responsibilities Though some readers may find the ending overly
pat the authors make bookmaking intelligible while easilythe authors make bookmaking intelligible while easily it into the plot Overall a decent story not my favorite but enough to hold my interest I wanted to love this What s not to love about a new Dick Francis right But I m sad to say I only liked it Our typical Dick Francis hero is there with an interesting profession family problems a mystery to puzzle through and villains to defeat But for some reason the story never completely pulled me in I still recommend this for any and all Dick Francis fans but I have to say that while it s not my least favorite Dick Francis it also doesn t make my list of favorite Francis mysteriesOne thing I did find very interesting were all the references to current technology Ned Talbot and Felix Francis I m sure is certainly up to date with technology and the Internet There are references to Google Google Earth Facebook microcoders and RFID radio freuency identification the computerized Hawk Eye system in tennis SIM cards in cell phones Wi Fi and E FIT Electronic Facial Identification Techniue There have been several other Dick Francis mysteries with computers gadgets And Even The Internet even the Internet none of them have been uite so loaded with it as this one One can say of Even Money that it may not be up to the standards of Nerve or Forfeit or Whip Hand or Reflex but it s still a Dick Francis thriller The key elements are all here the horseracing milieu the damaged hero various moral dilemmas the easygoing first person narration at least one scene of brutal violence the presentation of a lot of information about some romantically arcane subject eg wine investment banking photography and of course a or less happy endingHowever there s no getting around the fact that Dick Francis is nearly 90 He was born in 1920 piloted Spitfires during World War II for the Royal Air Force and spent the 1950s as one of Britain s leading jockeys riding horses belonging to the ueen Mother Only after his early retirement did he turn to writing fiction starting with Dead Cert in 1962 But by producing a book a ear up until 2000 Francis firmly established himself as a brand name the purveyor of reliable literate entertainment In particular his novels have always appealed to women and not only because of the horses in them but also because his heroes are usually uietly attractive sensitive men in their 30s burdened with guilt or otherwise psychologically wounded The faint air of melancholy surrounding them adds an aura of almost Byronic romanceUsually these troubled Dick Francis heroes find themselves caught up in righting an injustice or solving a mystery that affects their lives or the lives of people they care about In most of his 40 or so novels Francis does without a recurring character with one exception Sid Halley a onetime jockey who has lost an arm becomes a private investigator in Odds Against and is the hero of three subseuent novels including Whip Hand and Come to Grief both of which received Edgar awards for best mystery of the And a Bottle of Rum yearThrough most of his career Francis relied on the help of his wife Mary who performed background research provided a sounding board for possible plot developments and edited the final text When she died Francis stopped writing apparently forever But in 2005 he published a new Sid Halley novel called Under Orders and then in 2007 produced Dead Heat with the help of hisounger son Felix The two again collaborated on Silks and now again on Even Money Before joining his father in the family business Felix Francis was an international class marksman the leader of expeditions to the Himalayas and the jungles of Borneo and a teacher of physicsThe hero of Even Money is Ned Talbot a 37 ear old bookmaker who inherited his grandfather s business As the novel opens on a depressing day at the Ascot race course Ned has already suffered than his share of life s troubles His parents were killed when he was a baby his beloved wife Sophie has had bipolar disorder diagnosed his grandmother is gaga in a nursing home and his electronics whiz assistant Luca Mandini is thinking of uitting What s Ned feels increasingly pressured by the large scale betting agencies that would dearly love to put him out of business and acuire his pitch position at the tracks So it s not surprising when the bookmaker observing a happy couple says to himself I supposed I must have been that happy onceWell this being a Francis novel. A man who claims to be his father long thought dead And when the mysterious stranger is murdered Ned feels co. Not good I don t think Felix Uite Gets It He Has A Heavier gets it He has a heavier than his father in the earlier books The characters are not as delightfully genteel and the educational content here about betting id ing horses bi polar disorder electronics and MORE is way over done The plot is also over done In this story Ned Talbot is a bookie on the racetrack who meets a man claiming to be the father that Ned thought to have died 30 ears ago The sa Another winnerIf Playhouse you have never read Dick Francis he is addictive Ifou already know his books ou don t need this review because ou like myself eagerly awaits everything he writesHis last few books have been co authored with his son Felix and that seems to have invigorated his writing I have never read a disappointing book from this author of course they all follow predictable formulas but it works for me Kind of like Desire and Deceive your favorite ice cream flavor should always taste the same It s not great literature just very well written gripping fast paced and enjoyable I read this one very uickly hard to put downAs usual the background is horse racing This time the hero is a bookmaker not the easiest profession to sympathize with this created interesting challenges that the writers easily jumped over like a champion horse over hurdles OK I had to throw in a horse racing analogy There are back stories regarding two of the hero s relatives living with mental illnesses Again I appreciated the challenge that represented in order to keep the overall pacing fast and light I buy novels by Dick Francis out of hope for a spark of the old energy but haven t found it i a while I think it s been severalears since the last time I read Dick Francis His world of horse racing is so very different than almost anything else I read that it is pure escapism This is thriller than mystery There were a few times when the first person narrator did what I thought was stupid or unthinking No don t or How could Dannys Dragon (Tao of Love, you be so dumb I thoughtThere is enough characterization to keep it interesting so perhaps than I might expect in a novel of this type The prose does its job without being complex on the one hand or boring on the other If there was any subtlety or hidden meanings anywhere it was too Even Moneyet another Francis racehorse action mystery may refer to balancing bets for wins and losses to come out ahead In a dark deserted Ascot car park third generation bookie Ned is accosted by a stranger who claims to be his long lost father from Australia warns him of danger and dies in his arms from a sudden knife attack Ned s nerd techie provokes a thug villain His manic depressive wife wants to come home from the psych ward Research is on library microfiche Masked intruders violently demand a knapsack of cash and a mysterious microcoder Put everything together and whew what a thriller Aside Finally found after initial unsuccessful se The DickFelix Frances author combo still doesn t have the magic that made me a huge fan of Dick Frances s books and I m not uite sure what it is Even Money is again about the racing environment delving into the world of the bookies and the punters on the racetrack Perhaps I was lost because there was an awful lot about bookmakers odds lots of fractions and numbers that went right over my head even with the help of the chart at the front of the book It also seemed as if the editor left in a lot of funny English phrases which threw me for a loop now and then that were Americanized in the early Francis books There was murder and intrigue and clever machinations but I didn t find that love of horses that shimmered through Dick Frances s books and made me learn to love horses myself And perhaps
Most Of All I Justof all I just t admire and connect with the main character as I have with all of the earlier books Sigh I ll still read the DickFelix books when they come out but th The third collaboration between bestseller Francis and son Felix after Silks a taut crime thriller features an especially sympathetic hero Bookmaker Ed Talbot is struggling with his wife s mental illness even as technology threatens to give the big bookmaking outfits an insurmountable advantage over his small family business Soon after a man shows up at Ascot and identifies himself as Ed s father Peter whom Ed believed long dead a thug demanding money stabs Peter to death Ed is in for even shocks when he learns his father was the prime suspect in his mother s murder and that Peter s killing rather than a random act of violence may be linked to a mysterious electronic device used in some horse racing fraud Ed mu. Ned Talbot is a small time bookmaker on the edge of giving it all up when his world is turned upside down by. .