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Blood Sport

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,125 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
British agent Gene Hawkins had not even begun his investigation into the disappearance of a champion racehorse & already his life was in jeopardy. Was the job of retrieving this bloody nag worth dying for? Another thriller from the bestselling jockey-turned-author.
Audio, 5 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1967)
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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
Jul 13, 2007 Jaime rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since this book was originally published in 1967, in many ways it seemed like a step back to a simpler time for me. A time with simple technologies, no sex, no cussing, and very mild violence. The story centers around the search for 3 missing breeding stallions, and it was made interesting even for someone who knows very little about the world of horse racing and breeding. Gene is also a rather unconventional leading man — mysterious (you never quite find out what it is he actually does for work ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not know that this was published in 1967 until I was done with it. A very smart, timeless mystery.

When Dave Tellers prized race horses, that are worth millions, start mysteriously disappearing and then there is an attempt on his life, he enlists the help of Gene Hawkins, an English agent, who is known for his brilliance at solving cases. Gene is extremely methodical and has an amazing gift of perception, on the flip side he is also in a constant state of depression which he is able to hide
I love this one by DF. It's different. It takes place mainly in the American west. The hero, unlike most DF heroes is a man who is used to danger. He is a burnt out spy and somehow through the action of the book learns to appreciate life again. Like all DF's books the fun is in watching the hero cleverly foil the bad guys.
This is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. His heroes are always very well-drawn, but I found Gene Hawkins particularly to the point, fighting with very human issues as he outwardly appears a typical Bond-style professional hero type. The actual plot isn't really the appeal of this book for me, it's the character of the hero in and of itself.
Rachel Brown
The plot isn't as well-tuned as Francis's norm, with an unusual amount of low-stakes wandering around looking for clues, but the hero makes it memorable.

Gene is a former James Bond-type secret agent turned private eye (unusually for Francis - his heroes tend not to be professional hero types) suffering from long-term, severe depression. He spends a lot of the book trying to convince himself not to commit suicide. Treatment is never mentioned, and he seems to think it doesn't exist - at one poin
I think I tend to prefer Dick Francis novels that don't actually take place on a racecourse or in which the main character is not a jockey - most likely because, surprisingly perhaps for a Dick Francis fan, I have no interest in horse racing.

Gene Hawkins, the main character of this novel, works in counter-espionage - he's definitely not James Bond or Jason Bourne, but he does have a rather specific set of unusual skills that come to good use in the course of the story. This, certainly, is one of
Mar 03, 2011 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011

one of the better efforts from the racetrack specialist. an unusual hero, still the quiet but strong introverted one, highly intelligent and self-reliant, but this time one burdened by a crippling depression. The bad guy is more in line with the usual Francis typecast : moneyed, smooth, greedy, less prone to violence than in other books. Also typical is the presence of a very appealing female companion.
The plot is of course about racehorses, and the setting moves from the Thames riverbanks to Ke
Mar 06, 2014 Tiina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has an interesting plot and the main character thinks up a couple of smart tricks to first solve the riddle of disappeared horses and then to find who took them and why.

I've now read this book three times, the last time was ten years ago and what an interesting thing a mind is - I had very little recollection of the story. So I was able to enjoy this as a "new" book by Dick Francis, who is one of my favourite authors! How nice!
Apr 04, 2014 AndrewP rated it it was ok
Most of the time I can enjoy a decent crime novel even if the particular subject matter does not interest me that much. This book failed to live up to my expectations.

Horse racing and horses in general do not hold any fascination to me and thus the background of this book was not that interesting. But that was not the main failing of this book. The main problem was that it was too much of a simplistic linear police procedural, where clue 'A' led to clue 'B' and so on. You never discover what the
Sean Brennan
Oct 30, 2015 Sean Brennan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Although Well written I was not overly keen of the plot mainly as the story was set in the United States, when to me Dick Francis novels are as English as 'fish and chips'.Although What is to be commended about the story is the fact that the lead character suffered from depression, which was still bit of a taboo subject in 1969.
C.E. Murphy
This is Francis's 5th book, as far as I can tell (which is done by looking at the copyright date and subtracting from the first year he was published, so I'm reasonably close, anyway). It's still unquestionably got his knack for astonishingly adept descriptions with a handful of words, but it's more verbose than I think any of the later books I've read. This is not a complaint, just an observation: my feeling is that as he got better, he pared the books down to their essence, making them tour de ...more
Deirdre S.
Aug 06, 2011 Deirdre S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More moving than I expected, though Francis' understated books often are. In this case the viewpoint character is suicidally depressed, chronically unattached and uses the dangers of his covert-ops-type job to keep himself engaged enough to struggle through one more day after another. Ironically, it is how painful and personal the cost of
his succeeding at this particular job turns out to be that brings him to the point of being willing to re-engage with life, and other people for the first time
Deb Greening
Apr 05, 2013 Deb Greening rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any mystery lover
Shelves: favorites
Have read all of Dick Francis' books and, particularly with the earlier ones, one thing I particularly liked is that he treated his readers are intelligent people - no need for paragraphs describing things - he just made them happen and put the reader right in the thick of it! All of his books have something to do with horses: the protagonist is an owner, trainer, jockey, writer, pilot, or any number of other race horse related employments. Before he wrote books, Dick Francis was a jockey, and i ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dick Francis mysteries are always satisfying, both as a mystery as well as in showing aspects of horse racing culture. This one is a little unusual in that Gene Hawkins, the protagonist, doesn't really ride, although his father was involved in racing. He is a government civil servant, although that description doesn't do justice to the work he does in vetting people, and rooting out spies. After saving the life of a casual acquaintance, he he asked by his boss to locate a missing stallion worth ...more
Simon Evans
Aug 28, 2015 Simon Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: digital
The first few Dick Francis novels, whilst very enjoyable, do follow a bit of a formula. With this one he began to branch out a little. And he does it very successfully. The lead character is a deeply troubled man and we get to know him throughout the book which is the first break from the formula.

the story takes places almost exclusively outside the British Isles which is another break from the formula and the plot unfolds at a different pace to the previous novels.

The story is almost a whodunni
Francis, Dick - 6th book

Gene Hawkings must travel to Kentucky, on the orders of his boss, to spend three weeks looking for kidnapped stallions. But before he leaves, Gene's survival skills are called on closer to home, catapulting him into a maelstrom of blackmail and murder.

I wasn't quite as taken by this book as his others. The protagonist didn't speak to me in the same way.
Jan 19, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't realise how long ago a book you're reading was written until they talk about identifying horses based on blood types and you're thinking, why don't you just do a simple DNA test. Then you turn to the page to see when it was first published and realise that an interesting book stays interesting even though it was written AGES ago. I really enjoyed the story. It was a good summer read.
Jan 15, 2014 Gill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Dick Francis novel I've read and it was a huge surprise. I would never have picked it up but it was a book club choice so I gave it a go. I really enjoyed it. It was well paced with rounded and interesting characters and a satisfying plot. Even though it was written in 1967 it didn't feel dated. I will definitely read more.
Joe Santoro
Feb 17, 2016 Joe Santoro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this felt different than some of Francis' other books, both because the horse racing element is such a minor factor (it's really more a straight detective novel), and because the main character is such a flawed, tragic figure. Or maybe that it takes place mostly in America. Something

I was ready to give this one 2 or 3 stars as Gene Hawkins (the main character) was really just a drag, and things were really all too easy (which happens in Francis mysteries sometimes).. then they weren't.
Most crime / detective novels work out pretty well for me. Unfortunately this one ended up being an exception to the rule. The background story about horse breeding had no real pull for me, and the actual detective portion was quite a bit... elementary? simplistic? Honestly it was almost agitating how the clues lead in a direct path, without any real twists or turns, to the ultimate outcome. The characters were mediocre and quite forgettable. The only redeeming point is the novel was well writte ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Picture perfect Dick Francis mystery.
John Marsh
Apr 20, 2015 John Marsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 09, 2015 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't the first time I've read this book, nor even the second, but it's my first time with the audio version. This one is read rather than performed -- there's not so much differentiation of voices nor tonal shift depending on mood -- but that doesn't much matter when the story is this gripping. There is a reason Dick Francis is one of my favourite authors, and this story illustrates it beautifully. Full marks for the story and for the narration, which showed the author's craft to good adva ...more
I loved Dick Francis back in the 80's so I'm sure I read this one. It came across as the Deal of the Day so I thought I'd give it a try. I almost quit at the start as I didn't like the narrator's voice at all but I stuck with it. I have to admit the story felt very dated and the hero's conflict--whether or not to kill himself--never rang true. I'm not sure if it was the bad narration, if this wasn't one of his best or if this is a series that I should just remember fondly and not rev ...more
May 20, 2014 Monk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had no clue that this book was written almost 50 years ago, until some references to technology seemed a little antiquated. But it still works. Dick Francis novels are a curious interest for me. I know nothing about horse racing. Have never been to England. So the settings are completely unfamiliar to me. But his books were always so well written that it just didn't matter.
Jan 05, 2015 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gene Hawkins works for the government - he does background check and investigation to ferret out potential spies. He has 3 weeks off and his boss asks him to find a missing horse - one in a string of three that have gone missing. Investigation takes him to America with plenty of danger. Hawkins is very depressed, close to suicidal. Decent plot. Interesting story. No language.
M. Patrick
Apr 10, 2014 M. Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dick Francis died in 2010, but he left us an entire library of Crime Fiction. What is amazing to me about his life is that he was a successful jockey, journalist, and author after quitting school at 16. Blood Sport is the story of an intelligence officer grieving over a lost love who is tasked with finding three missing thorough bred horses. The story is engaging and the characters are multidimensional. His prose is lyrical and his images vivid. I only thought it little darker than it needed to ...more
This was the first Dick Francis book I've listened to, rather than reading in book format. The narrator was excellent in conveying the protagonist (Gene Hawkins, whose regular job seems to be background checking for an international businessman), a man who seems to have serious depression that is only held at bay by action. Forced to take a vacation, he becomes nearly suicidal. Then Hawkins is invited on a boating outing with his boss's family and some friends. It transpires that the friend has ...more
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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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