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To the Hilt

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  4,965 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
From the acclaimed master of mystery and suspense comes the story of a self-imposed outcast who must refresh his detection skills in order to save himself and his family.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published September 24th 1996)
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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
2nd out of 40 books — 58 voters
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Black Echo by Michael ConnellyThe Pelican Brief by John GrishamMurder With Peacocks by Donna AndrewsThe Alienist by Caleb Carr
Best Mysteries from the 1990s
24th out of 229 books — 62 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dana Stabenow
Mar 19, 2010 Dana Stabenow rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 06, 2007 Hannah rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it
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
Nov 04, 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
Apr 11, 2016 Kay rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 23, 2013 Martina rated it really liked it
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 16, 2013 Ritwik rated it liked it
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
Dec 23, 2014 Arlene rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 18, 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.
E Wilson
May 17, 2014 E Wilson rated it it was ok

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,
Hope McPherson
Jan 04, 2014 Hope McPherson rated it liked it
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!
May 27, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
Horse racing related thriller - The "hilt" refers to the jewel-encrusted, solid gold handle of the ceremonial sword of Scotland's, Bonnie Prince Charlie. A descendant of the Scottish earl to whom the prince gave the hilt, Alexander Kinloch lives 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. Hard on the beating, Al must rush to London to comfort his mother in the afte ...more
Janet Veil
Apr 02, 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.
Rose Mary Griffith
Mar 22, 2015 Rose Mary Griffith rated it it was amazing
Excellent, Complicated Mystery

This is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. Published in 1996, the characters and situations they face and create are timeless. Our anti-hero, Al, gets drawn into a web of family complexities involving Lorded-heritage, step father & step sister, a mother he adores and a wife who is an ex--sort of.

Along the way, we come to meet Tobie and Chris, Margaret and Golden Malt. Reading,

I find I want to travel to the Scottish Highlands and listen to the bagpipes pla
Jun 09, 2016 Nina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. A near perfect crime story. :)
Connie N.
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
Jul 03, 2016 LibSandy rated it really liked it
Dick Francis is one of my fav authors, so it goes without saying that I enjoy his novels. This one I picked up in a communal reading lounge. I needed some light reading for relaxation and found this book thoroughly suitable and entertaining. Alexander is too good to be believable, but I think we all wish for Alexander-like properties within us & know we fall miserably short. He took his beatings, forgives easily, lives the life he wants, has a forgiving wife, can paint, can sort-of ride, has ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it
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.
Emily Drew
Aug 19, 2011 Emily Drew rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 22, 2015 Ingrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So sollte ein Buch, dasß sich Krimi nennt sein: spannend, humorvoll, mit überraschenden Wendungen und vielleicht auch die eine oder andere gut recherchierte Wahrheit.
Verrechnet ist mein erster Roman von Dick Francis aber sicher nicht der letzte.
Allein der Schauplatz, die schottischen Highlands haben mich hier zugreifen lassen. Die Verwickelungen um unterschlagenes Geld und versteckten Familienheiligtümer waren sehr unterhaltsam geschrieben. Als Schmankerl obendrauf gab es noch Anleitungen zum Ma
Jun 14, 2016 Stacey rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorites of Dick Francis!
Jan 10, 2016 Alarra rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, francis
This has a fair bit in common with a lot of other Dick Francis books (ah, don't they all?) but with some fresh twists too. There are so many more female characters in this, and they're pretty great, though I felt the characterisation of Vivienne was all over the place at times. Anyway, beyond the mystery it's also great for the fun friendship between Al the painter and Chris the private detective he hires. It's nice to have a bit of levity to break up all the dangerous, painful situations Franci ...more
Text Addict
This is, in my estimation, the best of all of Dick Francis's many books. I'm very fond of several of the others, but here, I believe, he reached a pinnacle of theme, character, and skill that few authors - whether "serious" or of "mere genre" books - manage to achieve. I'd even recommend reading a bunch of his other works first, before this one, just to see the difference.

I'm glad I've got a hardcover copy, because a paperback would have started to break down already after being re-read a coupl
Jan 06, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
One of his best.
Rena Sherwood
My Mom says that there are a couple of Dick Francis books that have not as yet been made into movies and really should be. I agree with her. I would like to see a movie of To The Hilt but it probably won't match the movie in my head.


As the title suggests, a sword plays an important part in this. Francis's narrator-protagonists tend to be quirky individuals, but Al(exander) Kinloch is probably the most self-assured bastard in the Francis pantheon. That being said, he's sorta sexy, too, in a 'I'm
Aug 02, 2014 Lemar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, brit-lit
For some reason I normally give Dick Francis books four stars despite the fact that they are uniformly well researched, superbly written and contain hard won truths about human and equine psychology. Happily I seem to have missed this one when it came out and it was a delight, reminding me why he is my most read author.

Dick Francis expanded the role of mystery protagonists from hard boiled Private Investigators and tough cops to a panoply of professions surrounding his world, horse racing. The
Tammy Tanner
May 11, 2010 Tammy Tanner rated it liked it
While this was a page-turner, I did not enjoy it as much as other Dick Francis books I have read. I don't know if I have become a more sophisticated reader, or if this was not one of Mr. Francis's best efforts. But the sudden abrupt revelations, the false foreshadowing, and the unrealistic, one dimensional characters made the book very annoying at times.

But it was a nice, fluffy read after a heavy book, and the ending was mostly satisfying. The interwoven history of a Scottish aristocrat and the
May 27, 2012 Arati rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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“Some are born weird, some achieve it, others have weirdness thrust upon them.” 182 likes
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