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10 lb Penalty

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,190 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
Benedict Juliard is an aspiring jockey who must bypass his dreams of horse racing to help his father, George, in his quest to enter the world of politics. At 18, the reserved Benedict is asked by his father to enter into a pact: Neither of the two will do anything that could somehow hinder or destroy George's blossoming political career. Young Benedict, who has no stronger ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1997)
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Proof by Dick FrancisTo the Hilt by Dick FrancisBreak In by Dick FrancisThe Danger by Dick FrancisBolt by Dick Francis
Dick Francis Mysteries
21st out of 40 books — 58 voters
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Black Echo by Michael ConnellyMurder With Peacocks by Donna AndrewsThe Pelican Brief by John GrishamThe Alienist by Caleb Carr
Best Mysteries from the 1990s
32nd out of 229 books — 59 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Mar 22, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing
I love all of Dick Francis's books. He died a few years ago and his son Felix has taken over writing. I think he's doing pretty well. This was written by Dick himself several years ago, and I'm not sure how I missed it. Seventeen year old Ben who's into steeplechase is asked by his father to help him run for parliamentary office. Lots of info about how elections work in England as well as info about horseracing insurance companies. The characters are what make Francis's books so wonderful and he ...more
Mar 10, 2013 John rated it it was amazing
This review is from my POV as an author, so easily skip over it if you will: Unlike most of Dick Francis' novels, the action in 10 lb Penalty spans years rather than weeks and months. This is of interest when you consider story structure. In other of his novels, say Reflex for instance, the plot is linear and uninterrupted by passages of time. Ageing jockey (mid-30s)falls off a horse and begins to consider what to do with the rest of his life. There are twin, intertwined plots, the one dealing w ...more
May 15, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
Racing related thrillers - Ben Juliard, plans to spend his "gap year" as an amateur steeplechase jockey. His benevolent but disapproving father, George, arranges for Ben to be fired, however, to help him win a by-election to replace a deceased member of Parliament. George has designs on Disraeli's greasy pole and wants Ben to be "a sort of substitute wife. To come with me in public. To be terribly nice to people." Despite determined enemies (the ambitious widow of the dead legislator, her "emine ...more
C.R. Sedore
Jan 15, 2016 C.R. Sedore rated it liked it
This was one of those story's where if you like a story that's happing in the moment this won't be for you. The story is told over an extended period of time. The action is stretched out and if you're gripped into it by chapter 3 your probably not going to. I was pleased by the book. It had some high morals like, never give up. I cared about the characters.

I easily foreshadowed who the guilty party was. Usually, that would bug me, but the way it was written for story structure made the story mor
Dec 13, 2010 Jeri rated it really liked it
I doubt any mystery reader has to be introduced to Dick Francis, so I suppose it could be enough to say that this is another solid book from a master. 10 LB. PENALTY has perhaps somewhat less mystery than many of Francis' titles (I'd call it suspense, myself) but has the likable, ingenious, and self-effacing hero that Francis' fans (of which I have been numbered for many, many years) have come to expect. (Ben does not, however, seem like a "typical" 17 year-old to me!) I particularly enjoyed the ...more
Jul 07, 2012 Kwoomac rated it really liked it
An old reliable. 17 year old Benedict Juliard, true to Dick Francis' classic prototype, is wise beyond his years, cool under pressure, and honorable where others submit to temptation. Ben is recruited by his somewhat distant father(another oft-seen character) to be present while he runs for office. For Ben it means giving up his dream of being a steeplechase jockey. Someone is trying to keep the elder Juliard from winning and Ben is out to figure out who it is. The first part of the book was fas ...more
Daniel Bratell
Jan 17, 2013 Daniel Bratell rated it it was ok
After reading quite a few of Dick Francis' books and with the pattern well established this one book came as a bit of a surprise, but sadly not in the positive way. It is like he is trying a new approach and it doesn't work. Don't get me wrong, ninety percent is still the same trusted pattern, but there are strange gaps in the story, tens of pages where there is nothing exciting going on even in the background, and the narrator is suddenly somewhat outside the main story rather than in it. Furth ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite Dick Francis books. I own the paperback (a bit faded) and now have the Kindle edition. It deals with the son of a successful wealthy man running for Parliament. The son aspired to be a jockey but has to come to terms with the fact that he is not good enough. He is able to help his father's campaign and deal with various threats to his father's life. I always enjoy what I learn from the backgrounds in Dick Francis mysteries and this is especially interesting because of ...more
Pasan Rajadasa
There wasn't really much of a flow in the story. If feels flat for the most of the book, with readers being dragged by the author's reputation, at least in my case.
Jessica Timmons
Nov 10, 2013 Jessica Timmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read. Shorter then some of the other books of his that I've read, and this one wasn't as detailed either. Also you could tell by the first couple of chapters who the guilty party is. I did learn some new words for my vocabulary, and didn't realize that there was a word for such things as well. A good book for those who are just starting to read Dick Francis. After this one they can move on to the more broader and detailed novels by him.
Apr 12, 2015 Debra rated it really liked it

Seventeen-year-old Ben Juliard is pulled away from jockey training to help his father George campaign in his first by-election. George has obstacles to overcome by way of a popular opponent and the wife of the deceased politician George is replacing. Ben soon discovers that the father he’s really never known is actually a charismatic and gifted speaker who presents a serious challenge to the opponent. Someone else realizes this too, given that George is shot at, his car tampered with, and his he
Dhwani Swadia
Jul 17, 2016 Dhwani Swadia rated it really liked it
Read full review:

The book has a perfect amalgamation of horse racing and politics, although completely different worlds, the author does a wonderful job creating a story set in both.

This is the first Dick Francis novel that I read and found it to be an excellent read. The characters are real, and you find yourself empathizing with the main character, Benedict. All young Benedict wants to do is become a Jockey. But, his father’s political agenda puts an en
Jan 10, 2016 Alarra rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, francis, politics
Looking back after ten or so Francis books, this is possibly one of my favourites so far, because it manages to have many of the hallmarks (preternaturally grown up and competent narrator) while also being quite a departure in structure and arc.

This one starts with a mystery as expected, but the solving of it is almost an afterthought by the end of the book as it takes you on a journey behind-the-scenes of an unusual father-son relationship over the years against the backdrop of English politics
Alyx Tschirhart
Jan 20, 2016 Alyx Tschirhart rated it really liked it
Such a refreshing read. To begin, I found this book slightly hard to get into. I struggled to get into a groove reading this.

But after the first initial chapters of setting the plot and introducing the characters, boy, was this a good book. I found myself thinking about the various suspects and ways that this book may end even when I was not reading the book.

I've read a few Dick Francis novels prior to 10 lb. Penalty. I must say, this was not what I thought it would be. My favorite part was the
Jun 07, 2015 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-read-2015
Another author I have not read in a while, although I have read a lot of his books. This one was a little bit different as the horse racing was not the central theme.

I doubt the average American would get the British political scene and the brief campaigning period, but sure could appreciate adopting it here. It did help me gain insight in to why Brits seem less obsessed with politics - it just is not in their faces 24/7. News is reported and then moves on to other locations around the world, n
Feb 15, 2014 Gwen rated it it was amazing
I normally don't like mystery books, but I breezed through this book in 2 days and then picked up another by Francis. I love his writing, with how his simple sentences have such a huge impact. And while the mystery wasn't very obvious,the villain was shown early, it was enjoyable reading about how to stop the crimes and how the whole series of events helped Ben to grow. His relationship with his father is wonderful, and Francis describes being on the edge of adulthood from the teenage perspectiv ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I like most of Francis' novels, and this was no exception. I managed to find [I]10 LB. Penalty[/I] (one of two books I needed to complete my collection of Francis' horseracing novels), and I enjoyed it. The young hero, son of a MP and perhaps future Prime Minister of Britain, takes on the daunting task of trying to protect his father from an assassin. It means giving up his dream of becoming a professional jockey, but his dad does get him a racehorse he can ride as an amateur. There is enough su ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'd vote for George Julliard any day! Any politician who passes on slinging mud at his opponent deserves a medal. This is the first book involving any form of politics I've picked up in a while — I needed a break from the doom and gloom of real-world politics and imaginary-lands' sleaze and was glad to find Dick Francis' characters much more likeable than those I read about in the newspaper.

Despite the distance between father and son, I found George to be a fair-minded and genuinely warm person.
Jul 10, 2016 Jaime rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, general_mystery
Dick Francis mysteries have a quality to them that’s difficult to explain. There’s nothing jarring about them, even when something surprising happens. They’re generally all business, with no pesky romantic subplots to detract from what’s going on. And they always have something to do with horse racing, even tangentially.

In this case, the tie to horse racing is Ben, who would like nothing more than to be a professional jockey. Unfortunately, he’s just a little too large for the professional world
Kilian Metcalf
Nov 12, 2014 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it
Dick Francis is to reading what McDonald's is to food, and I don't mean that as a slur. Safe, predictable, no surprises, you know what you're going to get. Sometimes predictability is a good thing. That's why we call them comfort reads. I'm in the middle of a move, and this book turned up. Perfect for sitting down for a few minutes of respite during a stressful time. I know the hero will be stoic, the villain will be insane, and everything will turn out fine in the end. Works for me.
May 29, 2016 Carrie added it
Shelves: audiobooks
I was in between books on the waiting list and had just finished a couple of literary greats, so picked a Dick Francis that I hadn't read before. Simon Prebble has narrated many Francis stories and this one was just as good. It was an interesting story involving areas around horse racing, but not necessarily making racing the primary focus. The ending took a while to arrive, and was predictable. Still I always enjoy Dick Francis (and his son) stories.
Feb 24, 2012 Mrsgaskell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, 8-star
This Dick Francis novel was more involved with the world of politics than of horse racing. There was a fair amount of suspense but not much mystery. I enjoyed it though, particularly the relationship between the narrator Benedict Juliard and his father George. When the story opens, Benedict is just several weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday. He's an amateur steeplechase jockey but he's being dismissed by the horse trainer he rides for due to false allegations of glue-sniffing and drug-taking. ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!

October 14, 2009
9 out of 10 stars

I think I enjoyed this almost twice as much as Twice Shy, the Dick Francis book I had read recently. The look in on Brittish politics was very interesting, too!
Brian Leslie
Jun 03, 2014 Brian Leslie rated it did not like it
I am a huge Dick Francis fan, but this book was just not up to his normal standards. The story of a politician trying to get elected and using his son for validity just felt forced and unbelievable. The characters were hard to get in touch with as they didn't come across as real people. Overall I wouldn't recommend this as an example of Francis' writing and storytelling ability.
Mara Pembert
I am a big Dick Francis fan. I really liked this book. 10 Lb. Penalty - 1st Edition/1st Printing by Dick Francis byDick Francis
Pam Bales
Jan 22, 2016 Pam Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Dick Francis wrote about the best books for horse lovers and English aficionados could ever hope to find. If you like that combination - get ye to a library, or your Kindle, or wherever you get books and read these books. Dick Francis has been replaced by his son Felix. He does a good job, but read the older ones first.
Steve Wratten
Jan 30, 2015 Steve Wratten rated it liked it
My first Francis book. Kind of a light weight mystery, but I guess he's old school compared to John Sandford, one of my favorites.

The text is well-written and snappy, with many British-isms, appropriate since it takes place in England. I think I'll try one of the earlier Sid Halley books in the future.
Sais Shishir
Sep 08, 2015 Sais Shishir rated it it was ok
Straightforward and predictable without any suspense of thrill. I happen to like the good humoured way of writing of the some British writers including Dick Francis which made me keep reading till the end. '10 lb Penalty' is not at all like 'Nerve' which had made me remember the name of Dick Francis.
Jun 12, 2014 DeadlyHausfrau rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite Dick Francis books. It's not directly a horse novel, as many of his aren't. It's about a father and son coming to an understanding, about loyalty and ambition and halfway decent politicians. I've read it five or six times in whole and many more in part.
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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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“But what do you say if you're asked a direct question and you can't tell the truth and you can't tell a lie?'
'You say “how very interesting” and change the subject.”
“It's people with obsessions who do the real harm in the world.” 5 likes
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