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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,883 ratings  ·  144 reviews
From "the best writer in the mystery genre" (Larry King) comes the story of a jockey who discovers that his losing streak is caused by something sinister.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 3rd 2006 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1964)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,883 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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James Thane
This, the second novel by Dick Francis, was first published in 1964, and like most of his books, this one is set in the world of British horse racing. The protagonist, Rob Finn, shares all the usual characteristics and the same sort of frustrated love life as the typical Francis protagonist. He's quiet and self-effacing, which often leads people to underestimate him. But underneath, he's clever and resourceful and he has a steely resolve that does not bode well for anyone who would do an injusti ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It takes a special kind of passion, a special kind of nerve to do this.

Rob Finn's got it. "Give me a horse and a race to ride it in, and I don't care if I wear silks or...or pajamas. I don't care if there's anyone watching or not. I don't care if I don't earn much money, or if I break my bones, or if I have to starve to keep my weight down. All I care about is winning, if I can."

Only two years into a career as a steeplechase jockey, Rob has a reputation for being able to ha
James  Love
A big thank you to for making this available as an eBook. Sadly... due to the nature of copyright law, this and many of Mr. Francis' earlier books are unavailable for the Kindle at this time.

Once again Dick Francis brings to vivid life the risky business of an amateur steeplechase jockey. The incidents involving the Tank Carrier and the Jaguar blocking the lane reminds me of the comment made in Goldfinger... The first time is happenstance. The second is coincidence and the third
The Lit Bitch
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Dick Francis book that I’ve read and I really enjoy them. They aren’t overly complicated mysteries but they are fast paced and something is always happening. Not to mention his books all have something to do with the horse world….mainly the steeplechase world.

With this being Francis’s second book (I am trying to read them in publication order) I can definitely tell his writing has improved but his style remains in tact. Like his first book, his main characters seems to be a li
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Four and a half stars for a galloping good read. What I like about Francis' earlier books is that more than just "detective" yarns, they are stories. Each character is three-dimensional, a person with likes and dislikes, with a past and thoughts and ideas. The attention to detail is enormous, unlike some "golden age" mysteries with plotholes you could drive a horse trailer through.

It's interesting that so many of Francis' bad guys are unbalanced, as if the tendency to do evil implied a form of m
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's really something to be said for good old storytelling. I love this guy's characters. They're not quirky or tortured or mediocre in greater measure than anyone else, and yet they're really compelling. Although his books are peppered with sentences like "I shivered from something other than the cold," I'm simply not bothered by it, because his characters are so great and the plot is so fun. Maybe my having started reading him before I had any training in writing allows me to get along so n ...more
Easily the best of the 20+ Dick Francis novels I have read thus far. This was the 2nd novel written by Dick Francis (1964) and it is obvious he had improved and honed his writing skills during the 2 year hiatus following his first novel Dead Cert in 1962. Francis was at the top his game with this one. A classic, well-written punchy mystery using the British horseracing industry as a backdrop, and a novel that established Francis as a serious literary player and kick-started a hugely successful 5 ...more
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading Dick Francis' novels according to their published date, so this was his second mystery novel. I must say that compared to his first, "Dead Cert," one can tell that his writing has became better. It seems that he writes with more ease and adds more depth to the characters, scenes and the plot. I've enjoyed reading this book a lot and definitely recommend it to all Francis' afficionados.
Benjamin Thomas
If there is one trait above all else that a jockey needs in steeplechase racing, it’s nerve. Junior jockey Rob Finn has plenty of it. The rest of his family have made it big in the world of classical music, but Rob never fit into that world, instead being drawn to the active and risky world of horse racing. But just when he had caught his big break and was finally getting rides, wins, and the recognition that goes with it, everything comes tumbling down. After a nasty fall during a race, a strin ...more
Barbara Heckendorn
I love Dick Francis books and this was no exception. Already at the beginning a jockey shot himself. Nobody could explain why he did this. The young jockey Rob, who sees the whole thing emotionally from the outside, gets to know the highs and lows of horse racing and decides to get to the bottom of the cause of the misery of his colleagues. He discovers that the horses of these jockeys and his horses have been doped. He's out for revenge and does it in a subtle way. He's in grave danger. His wil ...more
Sam Reaves
Grabbing old favorites off the shelf again... Dick Francis was a British steeplechase jockey who took to writing thrillers and had a nice little second career writing international best sellers from the sixties up through the nineties. Most of his books involve horse racing, and they're dependably entertaining, with plucky underdog heroes, convincingly bad villains, and just enough succinctly depicted violence to make us wince and root for the bad guy's comeuppance.
In this one, a struggling jock
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Dick Francis mysteries. The main characters are fallible, but committed to a code of honor they will not break no matter what pressure is brought to bear. They are resourceful, persistent and unwilling to compromise with evil. They care passionately about the rights of others and defend them. And there's almost always a connection to horse racing.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I love Dick Francis books. I read most of them during high school and college, and now I'm slowly working my way through them again. I think this is probably where I got my addiction to cool, tough, laconic underdog heroes. I don't know who invented that trope, but Francis sure does it well.
Lynn Richmond
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much I read it in one sitting. I'm definitely going to be reading more Dick Francis books in the future I feel.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm clearly in the minority on this one, but I did not enjoy this book. I think I just don't enjoy horse racing (or any other form of racing) enough to relate to the main character. Rob Finn is an up-and-coming jockey but someone is trying to do him in. If you enjoy horse racing and thrillers, you might enjoy this one. I won't be trying another installment of the series.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
Read this many, many years ago. I could always depend on a Dick Francis novel for a quick, entertaining read.
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of crime thrillers and horse racing
Recommended to Gary by: My mum, Pam
I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner of a crime thriller. I was aware that Dick Francis wrote horse racing related crime thrillers but had never read one before. Now I understand why they are popular.
Published in 1964 there are elements of the story that have dated, of course, but if, like me, you can (just!) remember the days with no mobile phones, internet or even colour TV you will appreciate this story all the more. The book evokes the sixties quite well, though this was not its purpose.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finalist 1964 Gold Dagger Award.

Racing related thrillers - Robert Finn watches a fellow steeplechase jockey blow his brains out in the parade ring at Dunstable races, just before a race. As Finn and the other jockeys cope, some better than others, with the stress of their jobs, other incidents lead him to conclude that someone is trying to destroy the lives of jockeys all over England. Finn is not the average jockey. The only child of famous virtuoso musicians, and the single family member to no
Joseph Wallace
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nerve was British crime writer Dick Francis's second novel, and the one where he first started to perfect his formula: A likable, underestimated working-class hero unraveling a mystery in a world that involves horses. For some people, one Francis is enough, but over the years I read and enjoyed dozens of the author's books. There's something deeply satisfying about seeing the underdog triumph against powerful, arrogant adversaries, and Francis made an entire career out of this simple concept. Ne ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery
Great book... VERY easy read! My Grandma Judy, who is an AVID reader recommended it to me. I am really glad she did! I was thoroughly entertained from page one, it was totally clean, and the murder/mystery plot was both intruiging and fullfilling. Set in England, it was fun to interpret English words like 'bonnet' for the 'hood' of a car, etc... Now I want to shake hands with a jockey and go bet on a Steeplechase!! :)
Francis, Dick - 2nd book

Mysterious accidents start happening to jockeys, one man is found shot dead, while another is found with a broken leg. When Robb Finn begins investigating, he finds himself caught up in a world of violence and twisted envy.

Another great Dick Francis book. Interesting and exciting. In this book, the protagonist is in love with his cousin who is a singer of madrigals.
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
January 1, 1985
Alex Ankarr
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My fave. Wow, and there's immense irony involved.
Alison D
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good plot loved reading it again
Took half the book to get to the actual mystery part...
Chris Bubb
Jun 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-reads
This is another recommendation from Nancy Pearl's "Book Lust". She really loved it. I...thought it was OK.

Short plot synopsis: Rob Finn, the main character, is a steeplechase jockey in 1960s England. He comes from a family of musicians, and is the only one without musical talent. However, he's very good at riding horses, and is rapidly becoming successful in his career. However, jockeys around him are falling on hard times. At the beginning of the book, one of his fellow-riders commits suicide
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Dick Francis was well-known and well-loved for his taut, tightly-plotted mysteries, most of them set in or around the world of horse-racing. Nerve has always been one of my favorites.

The book begins with a bang -- literally. "Art Matthews shot himself, loudly and messily, in the center of the parade ring at Dunstable races." And with that, we're off. Something is deeply amiss in the racing world. Jockeys are being ruined by rumor and innuendo; Art's suicide and the later nervous breakdown of joc
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
John Marsh
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S.A. Bolich
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a Dick Francis fan for many years, which is not the same as being a mystery fan, as I read few of them. However, I am a horse person and I have always loved the way he was able to convert a successful career as a steeplechase jockey riding Queen Elizabeth's horses (among many others) into a second career as a bestselling author. The authenticity he brings to everything set around the track just leaps off the page. I actually like many of these earlier books better than the later ones ...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