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Trial Run

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,460 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Veteran horseman Randall Drew travels to Mosow to help the Russian royal family--but ends up caught in a world of jealousy, sabotage, and murder.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Berkley (first published 1978)
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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
35th out of 39 books — 54 voters
Sleeping Murder by Agatha ChristieElephants Can Remember by Agatha ChristieThe Cater Street Hangman by Anne PerryA Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis PetersA Family Affair by Rex Stout
Best Mysteries from the 1970s
18th out of 67 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,962)
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Dick Francis has been one of the most reliable writers of crime fiction for me, guaranteed to fill in a lazy Sunday afternoon with a pleasant and mildly thrilling mystery set around the horse racing world. I believe Trial Run is the first misfire in the 30+ novels of his I've read so far. I will try to keep my review short, as I really don't like to attack one of my favorite writers.

Trial Run is atypical for me in the Dick Francis catalogue for two reasons :

- his heroes are usually quiet types...more
I always think of Dick Francis novels as my palate cleansers, but that's not really fair to him. Sure, they're breezy, fun reads. They're also tightly plotted, and impeccably researched. His characters all have complex motivations and human flaws. Any writer could learn from him. This one wasn't my favorite: too much gay scare, women pretty much only present as dragon ladies or free-woman-of-the-seventies style lovers. Francis did a great job of getting me to envision a Moscow winter in the late...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...more
Kathryn McCary
Francis's mystery novels always involved more than their racing background and the plot-vehicle mystery. This one is a little more intensely about something else than most.

An upper-class English rider (with myopia and asthma) is dragooned by minor nobility into going to Moscow, in advance of the 1980 Olympic Games, to investigate a rumor that one of the possible riders for the British horse team will encounter the mysterious Alyosha, to his cost, should he attend the Games. More than a decade be...more
Robert Beveridge
I'm not sure I believe it, but there it is: amazon has Trial Run listed as out of print. Amazing.

By now I should be inured to the pace of a Dick Francis novel, which is roughly equivalent to that of a marathon turf stakes at Ascot: in order to conserve energy, the horses start off slow, knowing they have a couple of thousand meters ahead of them; the pace picks up after you get round to the backstretch the first time, and the finish is furious. Francis spent too much time on the backs of nags at...more
This book in the Francis series steeps itself in the atmosphere of Cold War Russia, with some interesting observations on how institutionalized fear can warp the character of a people. Unfortunately, the narrator for the audio version of this volume (Tony Britton) had no idea of how to do a Russian accent, so most of the characters ended up sounding more German or Scandinavian than Russian. This one was fun overall, with twists and turns to match the spy caper tone of the book and multiple refer...more
Dick Francis is always great for the British ways...mysterious...but not so much so that I can't put it down and go on to something else.
Randall Drew, a horseman who has recently been barred from racing because he wears glasses (of all things!), finds himself much needed by the prince to help resolve a confusion that has to do with the prince's brother-in-law, the Olympics, and the Russians. In Moscow, Randall sees the grimmer side of Russian life, while tryi...more
Somewhat different from the usual Dick Francis style. For one, the book chugs along slowly, builds up to a climax, and then peters out again. The protagonist depends a lot on help from others, though he is still the one who does the mental math and puts the pieces together, and gets beaten up badly!

However, I liked the glimpse into the repressive Communist regime of the late '70s USSR, although the author has portrayed the leadership (and the KGB) in a kind light - upholding socialist principle...more
This story was largely set in Moscow, where they were getting ready for the Olympics. The main character is trying to find Alyosha.

Descriptions of Communist Russia and early winter sound very genuine. This feels like a trip into the past. And there is a fight scene at the end that is really thrilling, but also sounds like something that could really happen. I liked the real feel of this book.
Another great romp from Dick Francis. Another Dick Francis that I realized I'd already read when I was partway through. No matter; it was still a fascinating story.

The protagonist no longer rides, as he wears glasses and recent changes to rules mean glass-wearing jockeys are no longer allowed. The Prince of Wales asks him to go to Russia to check out a situation with a British rider and some Russian thugs. He meets up with Russian jockeys and trainers and some British folks who are in Russia for...more
While the general theme of this book--terrorism--is still current, the setting--Soviet Russia--is somewhat dated. This is not a fault of the book but a consequence of the passage of time, since it was first published in the late 70s.
The story itself was very good as all Dick Francis stories are but I felt the conclusion was a little weak, as if Francis felt the need to stretch the tale just a few more pages. Deleting the last two short scenes in the book would have made for a much stronger endin...more
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After giving some new authors a try with mixed success, it is a real comfort to 'come home' to a familiar, favored Dick Frances. And, once again, he doesn't disappoint. Bad guys, good guys, believable intrigue, and a very attractive sounding, smart, horsey male..makes me want to settle in my big chair with a blanket and a cup of coffee...ahhhh....
Set in Communist Russia. It was an interesting look at Russia during communist times. I was expecting it to be a faster paced book, which is wasn't. The main character goes to Russia to find prevent a murder. Due to his knowledge of horses he is able to find out information that no one else is able to.
Francis, Dick - 14

Randall Drew is sent to Moscow to investigate threats against a royally-connected candidate for the Moscow Olympic Games. His brief is vague, the opposition invisible and the stakes appallingly high.

Great setting, Russia in winter. I felt for his illness.
Nov 08, 2011 Katie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2006
"A retired jockey is sent to Moscow on a delicate investigation involving royalty and the Moscow Olympics."

A bit of a change of pace for Francis. His hero is involved in some Cold War era intrigue related to the ill-fated Moscow Olympics. A good read, perhaps not his best, though.
This was a really enjoyable read and my first from Dick Francis. I liked the Moscow setting, and it was interesting to remember what the cold war was like. I really liked the main character and that as a reader I had the exact same information he did.
Bryn Troath
I listen to DF on the way to work in audio format.

Good stories and having a horsey background I enjoy the nag connection.

A bit rerribly terribly hey what in the accent departmetn but Btitten's range is good.
it's summer. i need to read a dick francis book. this combines the cold war, horses, and the olympics: how can it not win?


Not my favorite Dick Francis ever, but the Soviet stuff was really interesting.
Ian Rodwell
I have reviewed this novel and the other Dick Francis novels and put them in a FREE EBook.

You can get your copy at:
Kate Millin
Randall Drew an ex steeple chaser unravels a mystery that could have been used by terrorists during the Munich Olympices. The brotherhood of horse people is key to this.
As usual Dick Francis provided a good read. His characters are so likeable and the plots are interesting and educational. But this was not one of my favorites.
A great Russian spy story that is a little different from Francis's typical formula.
Well crafted with great characters and a difficult crime to solve.
Let's go back to the 70's-go to Russia--deal with the cold war-interwoven with horses and what do you get--another wonderful story by Dick Francis
Trial Run by Dick Francis was a quick but tense. The first-person perspective, the engaging plot, and the good dialogue propelled the story forward.
Oct 29, 2012 Rebekkila marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
An old school Cold War/KGB plot, set in 1978. Loved it, and finished it in two days. Must recommend.
slow start, but I really enjoyed it once he got to Russia. I liked the old school Cold War/KGB stuff.
Pretty typical Dick Francis novel - this one about Olympic horse riders.
On a Dick Francis binge at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying re-reading him
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Dick Francis CBE (born Richard Stanley Francis) was a popular British horse racing crime writer and retired jockey.

* Sid Halley Mystery
* Kit Fielding Mystery
More about Dick Francis...
To the Hilt Dead Heat Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2) Proof Bolt (Kit Fielding, #2)

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