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To the Hilt

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  5,274 Ratings  ·  255 Reviews
A brilliantly executed tale of top racing, big money and crime.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by MacMillan General Books (first published September 24th 1996)
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Dana Stabenow
Mar 16, 2010 Dana Stabenow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been rereading all the Dick Francis on the shelf in the Homer Public Library. This one is still my favorite, painter Alexander Kinloch, nephew of a Scottish earl, is summoned from his aerie in Scotland by his mother to tend to his step-father, whose prosperous brewery has been ripped off to insolvency by its disappeared comptroller. Wonderful characters, contained but loving mother Vivienne, dithery but honorable step-father Ivan, proud, stubborn, hilarious uncle Himself (the earl), viperou ...more
What is there to say about Dick Francis? As I think about all of his books (yes, this review covers all of his books, and yes I've read them all) I think about a moral ethical hero, steeped in intelligence and goodness embroiled in evil machinations within British horse racing society - either directly or indirectly. The heroes aren't always horse jockies, they can be film producers, or involve heroes engaged in peripheral professions that somehow always touch the horse racing world.

But more tha
Sep 06, 2007 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Dick Francis is quickly becoming my favorite mystery author, and one of my favorite authors in general! Every time I sit down with one of his books (usually hungering for something engrossing and interesting), I almost always have it finished by the next day, because I can't stop reading. Why would I want to? His stories are fast-paced, his characters charming and likeable without being too generic, and his plots intricately and well-constructed. It's just fun to read his stuff. And I almost alw ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, scotland, england
Alexander Kinloch wants nothing more than to be able to stay at his mountain retreat in Scotland and paint and earn his living. All of which he is doing until the day he returns from a trip to town for mail and supplies and is greeted by 4 thugs who rough him up considerably while demanding "where is it?" Al tells them nothing and they leave after pitching him over a cliff. While on his trip to town, he'd learned that his stepfather had had a heart attack and his mother was requesting his prese ...more
James Adams
May 18, 2017 James Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another strong showing from Francis, again with his cool prose and strong characters. This time the lead is an eccentric artist dealing with family troubles, of which embezzlement and murder are only two. A tad more brutal than any of his books I've read before, but that is no complaint. Definitely worth a look for fans of suspense novels in general, and of Francis in particular.
Apr 22, 2013 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I realize that there is a common thread in Francis' novels - you've got a good guy who basically gets in the thick of events by circumstance, or because other people like piling their problems upon him. Furthermore, the same guy often finds himself dodging physical attacks/murder attempts while trying to sort out the $h!t the aforementioned other people piled upon him. Of course, somewhere in there is a (strong or feeble) link with horse racing, another of Francis' trademarks.

Summed up like that
Dec 09, 2013 Ritwik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just another book one would pick if he had time to spare and explore new authors. Not as fast-paced and gripping as promised but definitely a page turner. Never really was big fan of the type of novels which had the protagonist narrating because in my opinion it makes it quite easier for the sake of writing as it excludes the point of view of the other characters,no parallel development or giving other characters a strong personality which fails to make the characters(other than the lead) memor ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horse-racing
The best of Francis’ books that I’ve read, and surprising since the horse racing part of the story is minimal and frankly unnecessary to the rest of the book. Francis does his usual, picking two or three non-racing topics to dive into details on. In this it is painting and international bank transfers. You get some of the typical bad guys, and a protagonist that is just doing his best, one who is smart. These seem to also be part of the Francis formula. He also adds some humorous characters and ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Arlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a teenager I used to read Dick Francis, and I've always remembered feeling good after downing a mystery by him. Now returning after twenty years, it's nice to know my early instincts were on the right track. His characters have character: "I painted pictures. I lived in a broken-down long-deserted shepherd's hut, known as a bothy, out on a windy Scottish mountainside, without electricity. My hair grew to my shoulders. I played the bagpipes. My many and fairly noble relations thought me weird. ...more
Hope McPherson
I thought I'd read all of Dick Francis' many books, so finding To the Hilt was a pleasant surprise. Not sure how it got by me.

It was classic Francis, although I think he went on a little long. He wrote about three endings, two more than he needed.

Nonetheless -- it was a brand new Dick Francis book for me. Whoohoo!
Apr 11, 2016 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Years ago I'd read several books by Dick Francis. They were fun but slight. This book written in 1995 was a surprise--quite substantial with interesting themes. Since I'm going to Scotland next month, I also enjoyed the bits of Scottish history thrown in.
Mar 20, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers
Recommended to Kelly by: Jen
This is the 1st Dick Francis book I read, and I liked it. It was a good page turning, the characters were interesting and clever, and it did not require much brain power.
Feb 16, 2010 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
One of his best.
Jul 14, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read on my Kindle Fire and I still enjoyed it immensely. Really, you can't go wrong reading any Dick Francis out there.
Emily Drew
Exactly what you come to expect from a Dick Francis novel - some murder, some mystery, some horses and rich people. And with this book, I bid Mr. Francis adieu.
This is one of my all time favorites of Dick Francis!
Janet Veil
Mar 12, 2015 Janet Veil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a shout out to my Grandfather who died in December. Dick Francis was his favorite author and it gave me so much pleasure to know that I was reading one of his favorites.
May 12, 2016 Nina rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. A near perfect crime story. :)
Patrik Sahlstrøm
Well written with interesting characters and a good plot. Only fault I can find with this book is that unless you are interested in horse racing, golf, painting or breweries it is quite dull. I find all those things unberable tedious, but if english upper class country life is off interest, you'll love this book...
Mar 24, 2017 Pauline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book of Dick Francis I've read, I had expected it to be more connected to horse racing, but I wasn't disappointed. Written in the first person,(which I'm usually a bit wary of), I warmed to the main character, Alexander. He appeared to me, as a down to earth man, just wanting to coast along in life doing what he loved, painting and playing the bagpipes. The plot held me captive, very much a page turner, read it in two days. Will definitely look for another one of his books to compare.
Barbara Bir
May 10, 2017 Barbara Bir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dick Francis always engages me from the first page to the end. Though each book has horses and racing in them each book is unique as are the characters. This is one of his best books with many twists and turns that kept me guessing til the end. Now I'm sorry it is finished.
Jennie Lin
Jun 01, 2017 Jennie Lin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Dick Francis mystery! Well written characters (narrators/protagonists in mystery novels are really important me) with a good pace - a very enjoyable read
Mar 16, 2017 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, foreign, mystery
What a romp! Fabulous characters, fun dialogue, and great pacing between several story lines that come together nicely at the end.. At 2/3 in, I couldn't put it down.
Need MORE from this author.
Rachel Kingree
Feb 26, 2017 Rachel Kingree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely. Had forgotten how much I like this mystery writer.
May 27, 2012 Arati rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of my favourite Dick Francis novels. Aside from the fact that his writing style is pleasing and action is fast-paced, and that I always learn something new, I love that he writes about simple people in extraordinary situations. He creates unerringly charming characters, the sort that you'd like to know in real life, and I've never yet taken more than one session to read a book of his! Unputdownable!

Alexander Kinloch, a somewhat eccentric but successful painter, lives in an iso
Dec 04, 2012 Robin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults and Older Teens who are interested in economics with a spin
Recommended to Robin by: My Principal
A Pretty Good Book.

Synopsis:Artist Alexander Kinloch has worked out a good pattern for his life. His home is a small bothy on a remote mountain in Scotland; he paints on commission, from which he derives both pleasure and a decent income; he lives alone and likes it. One day, however, Alexander's peace is violently shattered when he returns home to find a group of strangers waiting for him. After a scuffle, he is left for dead with only the words ‘‘Where is it?' ringing in his ears. And the days
I found this book at the Ursuline Mall (rummage sale) at the St. John's Bazaar, and bought it for a quarter to read while eating my lobster roll. It got me through fried clams and strawberry shortcake as well, and when I got home I couldn't put it down.

Dick Francis has a theme that runs through many of his books, as my husband (Snorri Sturlusson) pointed out. A young man comes to a crossroads in his life and some crime involves him on the side of the angels, during the course of which he learns
E Wilson
May 17, 2014 E Wilson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I have always heard rave reviews of Dick Francis's books, but
I knew he brought horse racing into most of his books and it just
didn't interest me. This was included in a Reader's Digest Condensed
Book that I got. I realize I probably would never have read this book if it had not been included in the condensed version, so I'm torn between thinking that at least I read one of the authors books and the feeling that I didn't really get a fair introduction to his writing.

Alexander, the protagonist,
Connie N.
May 05, 2016 Connie N. rated it it was amazing
Francis is always a winner for me, but this book was particularly enjoyable. Alexander Kinloch is an artist who likes to be alone, living in the Scottish mountains. He is asked by his uncle to hide something of value to the family, so when thugs come to steal it, he isn't surprised, but he is angry when they trash his place and steal his belongings. This is the beginning of his involvement in his stepfather Ivan's problems with his health, his brewery, and the racing trophy that has gone missing ...more
Francis, Dick - 35th book

The "hilt" refers to the jewel-encrusted, solid gold handle of the ceremonial sword of Scotland's would-be king, Bonnie Prince Charlie. A descendant of the Scottish earl to whom the prince gave the hilt, narrator Alexander Kinloch lives in an unelectrified bothy in the Scottish mountains, supporting himself through his paintings. Al's keen visual sense allows him to draw the faces of the four thugs who beat him and tear apart his home in the opening chapt
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Dick 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 b
More about Dick Francis...

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