Steven Scott is relatively new to horses. A successful, wealthy inventor, he takes up horse racing as a hobby - a hobby that soon brings him winner after winner under the inspired guidance of his trainer, Jody Leeds. Currently both their reputations are wrapped up in a beautiful black hurdler named Energise. But just when Steven is winning at both women and horses, he discovers deceit in his own stables. Termination of the troublemaker marks Steven for his own termination - and much sooner than he can imagine...
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I am convinced Dick Francis cannot write a poor book. Each of his tomes are works of art-somehow getting your blood boiling in the first chapter until the pain is exquisite as the ending slowly , teasingly begins to unfold. The real mystery is how he does this without repeating characters or plots or points of view- it seems each book has a freshness to it-an emphasised emotion, a clever paradox, a turn of events that make it unexpected yet somehow believable. High Stakes keeps you rooting for the hero all the way and nervous as a fresh colt looking at his first gate.
I have read and/or heard all of Dick Francis' books and have enjoyed all of them. That?s my story and I?m sticking to it.
Francis' books are thematic, although each book (save one) has a different -- always male -- protagonist. Like most good 'thematic' writers, one can pick up any Francis book and thoroughly enjoy it. However, if one reads his books more-or-less in sequence, you see an interesting progression of writing style, broadening horizons, and more diversity of plot lines.
Francis' first career was as a championship English jockey. His first books were steeped in the English racing scene as intimately experienced by jockeys, trainers, owners, and other insiders. An integral element in each book is an episode where the bad guy(s) do something horrid to the hero - frequently involving his being confined in some manner (e.g., tied to a remotely located tree while naked, rendered unconscious in the stall of a high-spirited racing stallion), being assaulted, or put in peril of experiencing a ghastly incident rife with danger of serious injury or death.
During the incident or afterwards, his protagonists all have the ability to ?think through? a situation, eventually coming up with the identity of the bad guy(s), their motive, and - most deliciously - a way to structure a revenge scenario that often turns the tables on the villains, and - if needed - achieves restitution (or rehabilitation) for those who were harmed during the preceding chapters.
Francis? later books concentrate less on the inner-sanctum of racing - though there is always a touchstone to the sport - with his protagonists having a wide variety of careers; sometimes at the top, sometimes not. In ?High Stakes,? our hero is a successful children?s toy inventor, other hero?s careers include: photographer, movie (strike that . . . cinema) actor, expeditor, glass blowing artist, spirits store owner, travel book author, and so on.
Having said the above, know this: ?High Stakes? is a good one!