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4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  5,038 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
Wine merchant Tony Beach has expertly catered his latest society soiree, but the fun's over when a team of hit men crash the party…literally. The event leaves Tony with a bitter aftertaste of suspicion—and sets off a mystery that's an intoxicating blend of deception, intrigue, and murder.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published September 24th 1984)
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Aug 04, 2012 Harry rated it it was amazing
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
Robin Donovan
Feb 05, 2012 Robin Donovan rated it really liked it
Dick Frances has a unique way of creating protagonists. Instead of having one main character in a variety of settings, he has a variety of main characters in the horse care and racing setting. This gives the reader a true range of behaviors. Some of his characters are better persons than others, some are more fortunate, but all are realistic in the sense that they are good people who are competent and vulnerable.

In the case of Proof, Frances adds an additional element to his protagonist, Tony B
Jul 21, 2011 Contrarius rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
As with many Francis books, the title of Proof has multiple meanings. "Proof" of guilt, "Proof" of alcohol content, "Proof" of courage, and even "Proof" that life can continue after loss. All four are explored in this volume. In Proof, Francis gives us a look at the wine and spirit industry from the viewpoint of a liquor merchant who has recently become a widower. At the beginning of the book the merchant is terribly depressed from the loss of his wife, and also weighed down by a conviction that ...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Dick Francis's thriller dramatised in eight parts by Ernest Dudley.

Episode 1 of 8
The champagne is flowing at a party thrown by racehorse trainer Jack Haythorne, when tragedy strikes. But is it just an accident..?

Episode 2 of 8
In the tragedy's aftermath, Tony Beach goes wine and whisky tasting in the cause of criminal investigation.

Episode 3 of 8
The fraud plot thickens, as Tony Beach meets the boss of whisky hauliers Charter Carriers.

Episode 4 of 8
Dodgy drink, a missing ra
Kris McCracken
Jun 23, 2017 Kris McCracken rated it liked it
Dodgy wine, stolen whiskey, dead sheiks, expensive horses. Not really my bag, but Francis has constructed a neat little mystery here. Romped along nicely enough.
Jane Stewart
Typical formulaic mystery. I wasn’t pulled in.

I wanted to give this author a try. So now I’ve read two of his books and I’m done. He’s just not for me. He writes straight mystery. I want more interesting characters, relationship development, and dialogue. There was potential for Tony and the private detective Gerard to be unusual or have an interesting relationship, but that wasn’t done.

This is a story about a good guy investigating, being in danger, eventually figuring out the mystery, and cat
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
This was an excellent production by BBC Radio 4 with a full cast dramatization.

Wine merchant Tony Beech is catering an upmarket party when a runaway horse float crashes into the marquee killing several people.

At the same time he is inveigled into investigating a suspected fraud, where inferior product is being sold off as top of the line whisky, brandy and wine.

There is an intoxicating blend of deception, intrigue, and murder in this book. It would have rated a full star higher except that the
Read by Nigel Havers. The Sheikh was rattled then rolled - I know, I have a terrible sense of humour. Classic Francis, which is always acceptable.

At the annual party celebrating the success of the racing season, everything is running well to form until a runaway horsebox ploughs into the marquee, causing terrible death and destruction. A witness to the tragedy, wine merchant Tony Beach presumes it is just one of those awful accidents.

But as he gets involved in the investigation and begins to mak
Next to Break In, this may be my favorite Dick Francis story. The storyline is intriguing, enthralling and heartbreaking. Anything I know about scotch, I learned from Dick Francis. Twenty years after reading Proof, I bought a bottle of Laphroaig for my boss based simply on this book. A definite winner!
Oct 06, 2011 Jackie rated it really liked it
This was the second book I read by Dick Francis, and I quickly became a solid fan of this writer. (Reflex was the first of his I read). His books are entertaining, educational, fun, serious, and have my favorite ingredient: the main character is someone you identify with, you put yourself in their shoes, and you care what happens to them. They are usually an unexceptional, average person, with possibly one skill that sets them apart from the other characters, and with this skill or talent, they ...more
Apr 06, 2013 Quercus rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Recommended to Quercus by: My mother
Shelves: mystery
I love Dick Francis' novels. He was the Queen Mother's jockey & became a novelist after he retired. His books all have horses in them in some way or another, but each is set in a different industry, which is well researched. This one is set in the wine industry, which I used to work in myself, so of course it is particularly appealing.

The funny thing is, though, as different as he tries to make his heroes, in the end they all turn out to be the same quiet, unassuming, smart, capable guy who
Dec 31, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, england
Tony Beach is a wine merchant with a small shop. He also provides the alcohol/drinks for parties. While at a party he did annually for a horse trainer, there is a horrible accident when a horse trailer careens down the hill from the car park and into the party tent. Over the next couple of weeks, Tony becomes involved in two investigations. There was the investigation of what happened at the party but there is a bigger investigation going on. Larry Trent, one of the attendees at the party (who ...more
Jan 06, 2009 John rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite of all the Dick Francis books. It contains all of the best elements of his works: first, of corse, a well crafted mystery. Then there is a main character already going through changes in his life who gets caught up in the mystery. Then there is the painstaking research Francis did into an unusual occupation, which is a hallmark of some of his later works. (The first books were all about jockeys or horsetrainers.) I later started at the beginning and read all of his books, bu ...more
Deanna Against Censorship
Jul 09, 2013 Deanna Against Censorship rated it really liked it
I love Dick Francis' books. (I do love the British mystery done right.) This story not only has some of the horse set but gives an education on the business side of wine. The MC is smart, lonely, quiet and braver than he thinks. Typical Dick Francis hero. Loved the story. Dick Francis could write. Very enjoyable.
May 15, 2017 Tarma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great story from Dick Francis. Tony Beach is written with such a clarity of emotion and intelligence (and being a good person, that's particularly nice) that, besides being a great mystery, it just feels good.

PS - The Goodreads write up summation is wrong. Heh. That happens so seldom that it caught my eye to comment on it.
Mary Allen
Jun 30, 2017 Mary Allen rated it it was amazing
This was a reread from long ago as I'd remembered it as being my favourite. Stands up well against modern crime novel of investigators but without mobile phones and forensics. Exciting stuff with good research into the wine business. Highly recommend it!
Stephen N Bravar
Dec 01, 2016 Stephen N Bravar rated it really liked it
One of the late Dick Francis' best books. All of his writes are great beach reads....not too deep and not too complicated......just fun!
May 07, 2017 Diane rated it really liked it
Still great!
Bonus - learned a lot about alcohol & the bottling process.
Aaron Danneman
Feb 05, 2017 Aaron Danneman rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading a good Dick Francis novel. They are pretty clean, the language isn't too bad, and not a lot of sex.... Sometimes I even reread the books, because it's like being with a friend you haven't seen in several years. I really enjoy the characters he uses, and also enjoy the series he wrote about too. Tony Beach is a wine merchant with a small shop. He also provides the alcohol/drinks for parties. While at a party he did annually for a horse trainer, there is a horrible accident ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Maddie added it
Dick Francis’ novel Proof is about whiskey, or instead it’s about someone who’s stealing whiskey transport trucks diluting the alcohol and selling it for something it wasn’t to make a profit. This story featured an intelligent man with the ability to name any drink from a single taste. The main character was the most compelling character that I’ve read about from the author Dick Francis. Before the novel at some point he’s lost his wife to a fatal illness and struggles internally with the findin ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
A wonderful murder mystery full of red herrings. The beginning grabs your attention, and (view spoiler). I can never remember how it slots together between readings, but it's not so complex that I can't figure it out while reading it. Includes a very suspenseful chase through the hallways of a deserted racetrack

Profession in Focus: Wine merchant. I love wine (dry reds, to be precise) but I'm not any kind of expert. Reading about all the
Rounded up from 3.75.

This was an ok mystery but I REALLY wanted to like it more. I was often confused by all the characters and forgot who some were all together. There was also a plot point I wanted to be included in the overarching mystery that wasn't and I was really disappointed by that.
The author knew a lot about wine and horses and that made parts of the story very interesting and I did like the main character a lot.
If you like mysteries, try this out. I will read more Dick Francis even
Fiona Thornton
May 22, 2013 Fiona Thornton rated it really liked it

So I've never read anything by Dick Francis before. This is despite the fact that both my parents and grandparents seem to own every book he's ever written. They have tried in the past to convince me that there is a good reason why they own so many Dick Francis novels but honestly i just thought it was an old person thing really. You grow up, you drink a lot of wine, you read a lot of Dick Francis. Noone knows why, it just happens.

But honestly I thought the book was absolutely fabulous. A simple
Kristine Hansen
Feb 03, 2012 Kristine Hansen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
There are a handful of Dick Francis books that really stand out in my memory. This is one of them.

Tony is a wine merchant with a background in horses. He becomes embroiled in a conspiracy at an event where he's catering the drinks. And of course, in true Dick Francis fashion, with his life so meaningless prior to this event, he can't let go once he's started until the whole thing is over and done with.

I liked the hero of the piece a lot. Tony had a great deal of depth, and while the horse racing
Aug 05, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Tony Beach is a wine merchant with a small shop. He also provides the alcohol/drinks for parties. While at a party he did annually for a horse trainer, there is a horrible accident when a horse trailer careens down the hill from the car park and into the party tent. Over the next couple of weeks, Tony becomes involved in two investigations. There was the investigation of what happened at the party but there is a bigger investigation going on. Larry Trent, one of the attendees at the party (who ...more
John Marsh
Dec 26, 2014 John Marsh rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 28, 2016 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can't help but care about Tony Beach, owner of a wine shop and recent widower. When a tragedy happens at an event he's catering, he gets drawn into a tanker of missing scotch and several wines that taste the same. He meets Gerard, who helps him rescue at the tragedy, who turns out to investigate business/industrial crimes - he's looking for the missing scotch. So Tony & Gerard work together because Tony knows so much about the processing of alcohol and the taste of different forms of the ...more
Nov 14, 2012 Cari rated it liked it
This was one of the first Dick Francis books that I ever read, around age 10, and it has definitely stuck with me over the years. Yeah, 10 is too young to read Dick Francis, especially a book that is as graphically violent and sexual as this one is. I may be a bit warped from the early exposure but I'm fine with that.

Reading about the wine waiter getting killed was just as shocking now as it was 14 years ago when I first read it, kind of made me a little queasy. I enjoy the violence in Dick Fra
Oct 02, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep Dick Francis books in my bathroom as they are perfect to read in the bath!

The familiar formula of a modest man who has an equine pedigree and whose self deprecating manner disguises an inner strength works as well as usual. The heroes usually are dispassionately analytical and their "day job" disguises a fierce intellect or knowledge. Here it is no surprise that a youthful widowed oenologist is able to help in an alcohol related conspiracy.

One of the ways that Mr Francis (why was he neve
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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
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“Mrs Palis­sey and I tend­ed to have the same con­ver­sa­tions over and over and slight­ly too of­ten.
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