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For Kicks

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,980 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
A reissue of a classic mystery from the champion of English storytellers
Paperback, Pan, 362 pages
Published 1967 by Pan MacMillan (first published 1965)
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Li'l Owl
Daniel Roke feels trapped. His parents had both drowned in a sailing accident when he was eighteen, his two sisters and brother were younger still. Since then he has been running a very successful Australian stud farm in order to support himself and his siblings but he's dead bored of it.
Then one morning a man who calls himself the Earl of October and offers him a job to go to England as a corruptible stable lad to investigate a doping scandal.
"Can I make you understand how concerned my colle
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I know I can always count on Dick Francis.

First of all, I always fall for his heroes. They are invariably good, honest guys with a core of toughness, an iron-clad determination to do the right thing. In For Kicks the hero is Daniel Roke, an Australian owner of a prosperous stud farm. But even a successful stable takes a huge amount of work--the day starts at dawn and all-night sessions are not uncommon in foaling season. Dan is stuck in a rut, raising his yo
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
Alexander Bradley
Um, what to say about this? Well I read it as it was suggested by a friend due to Mr Dick Francis's superb 1st person writing skills in a hope to improve my own. Not a story I would have normally read but ended up quite enjoying it.

He has a simple approach that never really leaves you not knowing what is going on. His description was exceptional with a full body language included that made the story almost come to live in my head. A nerve racking story that gets you routing for the main characte
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was in middle school, I went on vacation with a friend's family. She was an only child and soon decided she did not like sharing attention with another kid. It was a long week with a lot of time spent in a car. The only thing that saved me was "For Kicks", which I found shoved under the front seat of the family car. I read through arguments about dinner, car sickness, and sleeping in the same room as a sick cat for two nights. After I returned home (finally!) I conveniently forgot to retu ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this at 13 (the first Francis book I'd ever read), and at that point, fell in love with Francis books. I went through his complete (at that time, at least) library in about a month. My education suffered, but my knowledge of things covered in these books has remained with me ever since!
An Odd1
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: action, mystery
"For Kicks" by Dick Francis is why the hero takes on a painful job, and gets broken and bruised. The lone hero has to investigate and fight - with some background data, without training, tools, or support. Annoying, too gorgeous, the October daughters, distract, detract, and fatally endanger. From the discomfort and shame the disguised successfully portrays "low-class", I wonder if the author ever went incognito for research, or remembers humbler beginnings.

Daniel Roke, Australian who establish
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, england
Daniel Roke accepts a job to go undercover to investigate a series of doping incidents among British race horses. The ruse is to be hired as a stable hand, and a not-too-honest one at that, and infiltrate the ranks to learn how the horses are being doped. Only a few weeks in, he witnesses a horse behaving as if it had been shot full of adrenaline. Tests come back negative, just as they had in every other incident. Gradually Daniel figures out what is really going on and is able to gether the ev ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
One of my favorite Dick Francis books. Daniel Rork (is that right?) at a very young age has to take care of his younger siblings when his parents are killed. He makes a great success of breeding horses at his home in Australia but feels that weight of being too tied down and grown up at 28. He is approached by a Lord from England who is looking for someone to come and be an inside man in the racing world and to investigate why horses are winning and looking "doped" but not testing as doped. He d ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Roke is an Australian horse breeder. Orphaned as a teenager, he supports his siblings and is bored to death. When is is offered a job to underground and investigate a racing scandal he takes a chance and discovers the adventure that he craves.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Again, I can attest to the effectiveness of audiobooks for books you can't seem to read. I started this months ago in my attempt to re-read Francis in something like chronological order, and simply couldn't get through it because there was too much deadwood. On the page, it was dull and slow. When I got the chance to listen to it, I thought maybe it would be rather like some other dull page-reads, and be more interesting. What was revealed was a thoroughly unpleasant little tale.

If you don't lik
James Thane
Daniel Roke owns a stud farm in Australia. He and his siblings were orphaned at an early age and Daniel, the eldest, has assumed the responsibility for raising his brother and two sisters, even though it means sacrificing his own dreams in the process. The farm is thriving, but it and the beautiful country in which it sits constitute a veritable prison for Daniel who yearns for other things.

Along comes a prosperous British Earl who is one of a handful of men who oversee the world of British hors
Billie Doux
In Dead Cert and Nerve, Francis chose jockeys as his heroes who found themselves in the center of a mystery. This time, Francis decided to go with an actual investigator. The way Daniel Roke was drafted as an undercover agent was exceptionally convoluted, and it was hard to get into the actual mystery because it wasn't personal. Roke, as usual for a Francis hero, is appealing, likable, and naturally noble and honest, and it's interesting to travel with him as he makes himself into something he's ...more
Janine Noble
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A first-rate adventure, spy story set in the world of British horse racing.

Daniel Roke, a successful young horse breeder from Australia, takes an opportunity to escape what has begun to feel like the inescapable burden of supporting three much-loved younger siblings (dependent on him since their parents died in an accident when he was eighteen), and travels to England where he goes undercover as a stable lad in an effort to expose what appears to be a doping ring which is threatening the reputat
John Marsh
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Adamson
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, mystery
Andrew has to grow up quickly when his parents die suddenly, leaving him responsible for his younger siblings. He quickly uses all his talents to build a successful equine breeding farm in Australia, and seems to be a talented young man.
However when he is offered the chance to take a dangerous assignment into the underworld of British racing, he leaps at the chance to escape his mundane responsible life. He explores the worst of the british racing stables and the hazards of being poor and forei
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Narrated by Tony Britton -- doing a great Australian accent to match the Australian main character.

This can be seen as a story about identity, if you want to read anything deep into it, or just an entertaining book about a spy in the world of racing if you don't. I'm a big fan of character stories, so I like the way that Francis always focuses on the character and his life; unfortunately, in this case I didn't believe the choices that his character makes at the end of the book. Fortunately, that
Ant Koplowitz
Jun 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
An early novel from Dick Francis, this was a quick and easy read. Told in Fancis’s fairly flat, no-nonsense style, the first person narrative engages early and, despite a few plot holes, is fairly believable. The mid-1960s setting does date it quite a bit, but the central theme of horses being ‘doped’ to win and the main character having to go under cover as a stable lad, was well thought through. There was a point when I thought that the action flagged a bit, but don’t let that put you off. For ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Roke is an Australian who has an established stud farm. He is presented with a chance to work undercover as a stable boy in England to figure out how horses are being doped and undetected. He is not exactly happy with his current lot, so he does it. He must transform himself into a shady character and work at brutal stable whose owner isn't above beating the workers. This was a good one. No language.
Francis, Dick - 3rd book

Proprietor of a stud farm in Australia's Snowy Mountains or muck-raking stable boy in Yorkshire? Danny Roke decides on the latter. It is the change of scene and the challenge that pushes Danny undercover, on the scent of a suspected racehorse dope scandal.

I loved this book. The conflict of the protagonists pride added an interesting element to the story.
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 writes about too. I'm not a gambler, but I really enjoy watching them live, as well as on screen. There is a certain excitement that I don't find in many other places.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, kindle
HORSES ... amirite?

This was my first foray into the Cult of Dick Francis (something I've learned: people have never read just one Dick Francis; they've read THEM ALL) and the charm is undeniable. There's just something so EASY about Francis's tale of undercover gruntwork in the seedy world of horse racing -- even if (like me) you have zero interest in horses.

A pinch of Agatha Christie, a smattering of good ol' boy action-adventure, and you've got yourself a STORY.
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a Dick Francis reading spree while on vacation and he never disappoints. In this one an Australian stud owner goes undercover as a disreputable stable lad in order to discover how a dozen horses have been doctored and run better than they're expected to. A truly psychopathic horse owner has discovered that he can make horses so afraid of fire that they will bolt. The comparison of different stables and the conditions under which stable lads work is quite palpable.
For Kicks was the first Dick Francis I read, and was overall a light & enjoyable read. I had never read a novel set in the world of horse racing, and Francis did a excellent job at introducing the reader to horse racing while also moving the plot along fast enough to keep it from getting unbearably slow. I liked how Francis used a first-person point of view, because it helped make the protagonist more interesting to me. A nice summer read.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Roke an Australian who has an established stud farm takes on an undercover job as a stable boy in England. His job is to figure out how horse are being doped, but beating all lab tests. Dan must transform himself into a shady character and work at brutal stable whose owner isn't above beating the workers. My favorite Dick Francis book so far
Apr 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read most of the Francis books and recommend them for a reliably good read. They're all set against a background of horse racing, and while that wasn't particularly interesting to me at first I've come to enjoy it; it doesn't overpower the plot. I especially like his tight unsentimental style that moves the narrative at a steady pace.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've started a Dick Francis kick. (Ha, I just see play on name of book...) Anyway, as I see them at library and/or acquire them, I'm reading them. This is one of the first ones he wrote and I really enjoyed it. The clarity of sight of his lead character, the development of the personalities of everyone, they all add a richness to a well-crafted mystery. (The butler did it.)(jk)
May 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my third Dick Francis read and I didn't care for it as much as the first two I read. Something about the main character failed to draw me in; still, it will probably appeal to fans of his work. I seem to be the only one who didn't get it, many other reviews are favorable, so maybe it was just my mood.
Michael McCue
A good story for escape reading, about race horses in England and Australia of course. Bad guys are very bad and very cruel to horses. To they get it in the end? Read and see.
June Sadlick
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. Really enjoyed it.
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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...
“they were carried out. He was a tyrant, not so much in the quality of the work he demanded, as in the quantity. There were some thirty horses in the yard. The head lad cared” 0 likes
“their water and hay, hours lying awake at night listening to the stamp of the horses below and the snores and mumblings from the row of beds. Over and over again I thought my way through all I had seen or read or heard since I came to England: and what emerged as most significant was the performance of Superman at Stafford. He had been doped: he was the twelfth of the series: but he had not” 0 likes
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