“Julian Trent, you have been found guilty by this court of perpetrating a violent and unprovoked attack on an innocent family, including a charge of attempted murder. You have shown little or no remorse for your actions and I consider you a danger to society.”
When defense lawyer Geoffrey Mason hears the judge’s ruling at London’s Old Bailey, he quietly hopes that a substantial sentence will be handed down to his arrogant young client. That Julian Trent receives only eight years seems all too lenient. Little does Mason realize that he’ll be looking Trent in the eyes again much sooner than that.
Setting aside his barrister’s gown and wig, Mason heads to Sandown racetrack to don his colorful racing silks. As an amateur jockey, he fulfills his true passion by pounding the turf in the heat of a steeplechase. Yet when a fellow rider is brutally murdered–a pitchfork driven through his chest–Mason’s racing hobby soon becomes too close to his work. The prime suspect is one of their brethren, champion jockey Steve Mitchell, and the evidence against him seems overwhelming.
Mason is reluctant to heed Mitchell’s plea for legal help–but he soon finds himself at the center of a sinister web of violence, threats and intimidation. Mason is left fighting a battle of right and wrong, and more immediately, a battle of life and death . . . his own.
Dick Francis, CBE, FRSL (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 both our names on the cover. Mary's family always called me Richard due to having another Dick in the family. I am Richard, Mary was Mary, and Dick Francis was the two of us together."
As with Dead Heat, the other Francis father/son outing, all the elements are there for a good story, but once again, it doesn't deliver at the level readers of Francis have come to expect. The pacing is just a bit off, son Felix still dump truck loads in the middle of the narrative that slow it down to almost stopping the story, and some characters who could have been used to better advantage are given short shrift making the reader wonder why all the detail had been given about that character. And then there is an uncharacteristic nod to Dead Heat--something Dad never did unless it was vital to the story or character development. If this continues, this really doesn't bode well for the future of the Francis name. If the next father/son collaboration is a stinker too, it's time to hang up the word processor, rather than let such a fine author go down in disgrace.
(His first foray back after a six year haitus after his wife's death, Under Orders, wasn't his absolute best, but it was a solid entry into the Francis ouvre.)
This also raises the question about editors doing their job. It used to be that an editor would tell an author--even a big name writer like Francis--when something needed to be changed for the betterment of the story, and the writer would do it. These days editors seem merely to correct for grammar, spelling and punctuation, and that's it. In my opinion, there is NO author who is above being told by and editor to change something that doesn't work. Hell, Tom Clancy's novels--with only one or two exceptions--could be cut by at least a third, fi not half and you would have a better story.
A top drawer racing thriller by Dick and his son, Felix Francis. Silks as in jockey and barrister silk attire. An amater jockey barrister gets drawn into defending a leading jump jockey accused of murdering a rival, in a story and case that could have significant impact on the world horse racing. Best Francis book I've read, although I have only read four of them, including this one. 7 out of 12 (img src="https://m.buro247.me/images/BC_WV.gif...
I always enjoy reding Dick Francis's tales of racing, and this was no exception. His central character, George 'Perry' Mason, is a barrister who is also an amateur steeplechase rider. He is reluctantly dragged into defending a fellow jockey who is accused of murdering another jock by spearing him with a pitchfork. His belief in the innocence of the accused is strengthened when he is subjected to intimidation by a former client 'bad boy', who wants him to lose the case. Lots of skullduggery in the racing game, told in the author's usual entertaining way.
This is a typical well written Dick Francis book, co - written with his son Felix and has a storyline that lies thick in a courtroom with an amateur jump jockey trained barrister trying to defend a fellow jockey for a murder he didn't commit. I really enjoyed this book and only dropped a star for maybe being a little over the top in legal jargon and procedure. Fans of John Grisham would love this. Would recommend.
SILKS (Unl. Invest-Geoffrey Mason-England-Cont) – VG+ Francis, Dick and Felix Francis – 42nd book Penguin/Michael Joseph-2008-UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780718154578
First sentence: “Guilty.”
Barrister and amateur jockey Geoffrey Mason, known as ‘Perry Mason’ by his racing friends. He had once successfully defended a violent young man, Julian Trent. Trent, found guilty nonetheless and swearing revenge against Mason, is now being released on appeal. Mason receives a call from fellow jockey, Steve Mitchell. Steve has been arrested for the murder of another jockey, the hatred between the two of known was well known. Mason first receives a warning and then a beating, instructing him to lose the trial and ensure Mitchell is convicted. Mason realizes his only option is to stand up to Trent, but a at the risk of his life and those he loves.
Even though this was written by Dick and Felix Francis, I’m going to refer to them as singular. Francis has such a wonderful voice. He has a way of drawing you into the story, a way of explaining things that make the information fascinating and an excellent ear for dialogue. I appreciated his including information on English law. Francis creates great characters. His protagonist isn’t particularly brave and strong, but he is stubborn and determined, and his villains are about as villainous as they come. I liked that he made the point about not understanding how hard it is to stand up against violence and intimidation. It was nice to see the hero actually get the girl in this story.
The story was similar to a horse race in that it milled out a bit in the beginning giving you background information, took off with sudden action and built in pace and suspense up to the end. Even the courtroom scenes, which were so well done, had an element of suspense. Portents are something I normally hate and the one early in the book wasn’t necessary. I also don’t usually like when authors hold information back from the reader, but here it worked.
Thinking back, I probably could have anticipated many of the turns in the plot, but I was so engrossed in the story, I didn’t take the time to analyze as I read. And that’s what makes Francis, Francis; you jump on and go to the end. The ending is violent and bothers some people; however, I felt he addressed the age-old question of legality versus justice. This was definitely the best Francis book I’ve read in a long time.
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 than that, Francis's heroes are rational human beings. The choices made are rational choices directed by a firm objective philosophy that belies all of Francis's novels. The dialogue is clear and touched with humor no matter the intensity of evil that the hero faces. The hero's thoughts reveal a vulnerability that is touching, while his actions are always based on doing the right thing to achieve justice.
Causing the reader to deeply care about the characters in a novel is a difficult thing to do. No such worries in a Francis novel. The point of view is first person, you are the main character as you read the story (usually the character of Mr. Douglas). The hero is personable, like able, non-violent but delivering swift justice with his mind rather than through physical means. This is not to say that violence is a stranger to our hero. Some of it staggering and often delivered by what we would think of normal persons living in British society.
You will come to love the world of Steeple Chase racing, you will grow a fondness for horses, stables, trainers and the people who live in that world. You will read the books, devouring one after the other and trust me Dick Francis has a lot of novels (over 40 by my last count).
There are several series woven into the fabric of Francis's work: notably the Sid Halley and Kit Fielding series.
Assessment: Dick Francis is one of my favorite writers. I read his books with a fierce hunger that remains insatiable and I mourn his death.
When the lawyer character has the nickname "Perry Mason", you go into the story with certain expectations.
A few years before this story starts, lawyer Geoffrey Mason failed to successfully defend his client. Now that client has been released and is coming after him in a tale that combines horse racing, murder and manipulation. Like a Perry Mason episode, most of the significant drama takes place in the courtroom.
This is the first Dick Francis book I've read and going on the blurb, it's not one I would have felt inspired to pick up. Given that I recently read Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, horse racing is something I'm learning more and more about. (Memo to self: take myself off to the races.) I felt a little disappointed then that the novel didn't give a lot of inside into the horse racing world.
That said, I really enjoyed this book and it's the kind that would make for a good summer read.
As usual with Dick Francis, the plot is interesting and lots of knowledge is imparted. This time, however, great quantities of exposition are ladled out in steaming lumps. This becomes tedious rather quickly. Our barrister hero, a widower, becomes involved in a case that reaches its tentacles deep into the horse-racing world. So far so good.
What made Francis so good was the humanity of his heroes, the depths they had to reach for courage, and the witty dialogue. These attributes must have been the contribution of his wife, Mary, because the change is marked since her death a few years ago. Francis is now collaborating with his son, who taught physics for many years, and it shows.
In this case, I frequently felt as though I were in a classroom being taught the intricacies and precedents relevant to the law cases under review. And when we weren't in the classroom, the hero and his new lady love and his friends were going through their paces in a stilted manner.
The light, deft touch we all loved Francis for is sadly missing nowadays.
Almost but not quite up to vintage Dick Francis - English barrister (despite the explanation I still don't understand the difference between a barrister and a solicitor or just how the English lawyer system works) and amateur jockey Geoffrey Mason (nicknamed Perry by his jockey friends, naturally) meets some unscrupulous clients and acquaintances. But, in typical Francis characterization, he stands firm and mostly unafraid and comes out the winner. Doesn't have the depth of some of the Francis characters, but he's reasonably likeable. It kept me sufficiently interested that I read when I should be doing other things. But then what doesn't??
I enjoyed reading Silks for several reasons. I like the English flavor and reflection of life in England. I liked the current references in this book to our time and places. I liked just knowing it was written by Dick Francis because I like his stories and writing. It was interesting to read how the law is interpreted and carried out in their courts. The only drawback to my full enjoyment of this novel was a few incidences of offensive language. I don't remember past Dick Francis novels containing this use of vulgar swearing. Overall it was typical of the entertaining, educational writing of Sir Dick Francis.
This was my first and last Dick Francis novel. I knew at the start, it was no great work of literature, yet some of the plot resolutions felt incredibly forced and amaturish. I found the central character unsympathetic and only continued to read in hopes of a satisfying resolve. DIDN'T HAPPEN. Not only was it NOT satidfying, it was offensive. THe book might have earned a 3 for the brief insights into the judicail system, but the last two paragraphs lowered it to a one.
I'm finding these father/son collaborations to be less than successful. Mason is a barrister who loses a trial where a thug, Jullian Trent, is sent to prison. Unfortunately, it isn't for long and he gets out after suspicion of jury tampering. Flash forward a few months and Mason, an amateur jockey, is asked by one of his professional jockey acquaintances, Steve Mitchell, to represent him for the murder of another jockey, Scott Barlow. Steve had an affair with Scott's sister, a vet who committed suicide a few months previously, and Scott blamed Steve for her death. Mason is disinclined to take the case for a variety of reasons but reluctantly agrees when he is beat up by Trent and told by an anonymous caller that he must take the case and see that Steve is convicted or else his elderly father will receive a visit from Trent. Mason takes the case but believes that Steve was set up so he starts digging to find out why. The only lead that he has to go on is the missing picture of Scott's sister with her first foal that she helped birth, taken when he was murdered. He investigates at the vet hospital where she worked and of course ends up meeting and bedding Elena, one of her former colleagues. Soon, she is the next one to be threatened by Trent. But she has a copy of the missing picture and from that Mason digs up this wild conspiracy theory that the foal, which ended up winning major races as a 3-year-old, earning millions in winnings before being sold as a stud for more millions, was really a 4-year-old when he won those races, making him ineligible. So Scott and his sister had been blackmailing the owner and had to be killed. The owner was Trent's godfather and he arranged the scheme to bust him out of prison so that he could kill Scott. Totally ludicrous. And, once again, I do not appreciate Felix's attempts to make the stories more "modern" by making them more crass. The phrase "next time, I'll cut your balls off" must have been repeated at least a dozen or more times, so much so that it started feeling like an immature child repeating dirty jokes just to get a rise out of adults. I think that I'll go back to the Sid Halley series instead.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Geoffry Mason (Nick named Perry by his jockey friends) is a barrister (lawyer) by trade and an amateur jockey by passion. As the book opens he is defending a particularly nasty piece of work who gets seven or eight years and screams he's going to "get" Geoffry for failing to get him off.
Then, a fellow jockey calls Geoffry. He's been accused of murder and only "Perry" can get him off.
The case is complicated and was impossible for this reader to unwind though the clues were there. Working flat out to save his friend, Geoffry also has to deal with his former client who, through very suspicious circumstances, was freed on appeal.
A third plot thread is that Geoffry is a widower and has spent years mourning the sudden death of his wife. Then, he meets someone. Unfortunately, his ex-client now knows who to threaten to hurt Geoffry the most.
Cleverly constructed plot with lots of twists and turns, this is a good thriller with fascinating insights into the English justice system, complete with courtroom dramas! Of course, being Dick Francis, there is a big dollop (or gallop?) of horsey stuff, but not too much. A good read, indeed.
Not his best. I didn't get into this one until about half-way through. I did enjoy the last half, though.
My major quibble is that Dick Francis' protagonists always drive me nuts. They are all brave and clever. They are also staggeringly un-common-sensical. (I know, that's not a word.)
In this one, a barrister by day, jockey by weekend, is attacked one evening on his way home from work by a man he had prosecuted and put in jail previously. The bad guy attacks him with a baseball bat. So what does our hero do? Dial 999? Call for an ambulance? Police? (Not in a Dick Francis novel he doesn’t.) He calls the police reluctantly because a colleague forces him to. But then he claims he didn't know or recognize his assailant. Sigh. I get tired of the heroes of Francis' novels behaving in a way I find no real person would ever do. (You know, like in a scary movie, where the last living girl (body weight: 98 lbs) climbs the stairs where she hears the scary noises coming from, clutching a butcher knife in one shaky hand. Whereas a NORMAL PERSON would have run screaming from the house at the first sign of terrifying weirdness.)
You should know, though, that I've read every one of Dick Francis' approximately one jillion books. I am a fan.
Also, small quibble – Francis’ titles are completely and totally interchangeable. I had to go get the book to remind myself of what this one is called. This one is “Silks” as in, a jockey’s silks (the uniform he wears to race in), and “silks” as in qualifying to wear a barrister’s silks (robe.). I get it; I just won’t remember it.
Maybe it's just because it seems like such a LONG time since I've read a new Dick Francis, but I really enjoyed Silks. When Dick Francis retired, I felt very sad that there would never be another new Dick Francis to read. So when he did publish again, I bought an autographed copy, saved it, and savored the knowledge that I once again had a new Dick Francis to read! Now that he appears to be back on his regular yearly publishing schedule, co-writing with his son, it's time for me to get back to my normal schedule of reading a new Dick Francis each year!
While I didn't feel that Silks was the best-ever Dick Francis mystery, it did contain the elements I have come to expect from a Dick Francis: a regular-guy hero who is doing his best under difficult circumstances, lots of details about an interesting profession, a mystery to be solved, and an evil villain to be defeated - all mixed in with a love of horses and racing. As I was reading, I thought, "People are going to write reviews complaining that there isn't enough action and too much legal detail." It did seem to be a little sparse on the action in the middle, although I thought the ending more than made up for it! I won't say more since I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.
Maybe later I will come back and give Silks three stars, but for now I'm giving it a solid four stars!
Pity one can't give a 0 stars rating to a book and have it register. I couldn't even finish this one - taking it back to the library after reading fewer than 50 pages.
It looks like the elder Mr. Francis has given over writing duties completely to his son. I knew from the first page (no exaggeration) that they weren't his words any more. Pulled one of his earlier books from my shelf and compared its first page with the leaden prose of the opening paragraphs of "Silks" - not even close. What a disappointment.
Oh, well - several years ago, after the death of his wife Mary (who was apparently his uncredited co-author for all those years), I thought there would be no more stories from Dick. With his revival of Sid Halley for "Under Orders" I was happy to see him back with a new book, even tho' it wasn't quite up to his usual standard - and even the next one, the first to come out under the names of both him and his son, wasn't bad. I don't really see myself bothering with their future books. Such a shame. Hopefully their publisher will let the old man's quality work remain in our memories and not drag it down by putting out any more crap like this.
Dick Francis used to be one of my favorite authors. All his stories take place in England, and are always murder mysteries around horses/stable/racetrack/etc. The main character was an ex-jockey turned PI that only has 1 arm. I looooved them. This however was not one of them.
This is the first Dick Francis book I have read that was a collaboration with his son. It is a new protagonist, but was still the same formula - murder mystery taking place at a racetrack/stable. It just was lackluster. Gone was the majority of the suspense. Gone was the realist factor. Like everything was all wrapped up neatly in a bow, when his other books were more realistic. Like you don’t get the girl every time, you don’t have a totally happy ending, this is why I loved him. But this - was like any other mystery written by a 1st time novelist.
I cannot express how deep my disappointment goes. To know that he brought his son in, and this is what his son did, is very sad.
Geoffrey Mason, barrister, was more relieved than not that his client was declared guilty. Julian Trent, charming youngster from an ideal family, loves violence. Then Julian's conviction is overturned. Obviously the witnesses against him have been terrorized into reversing their testimony. Geoffrey becomes a target of the released Julian, who lost his case, but there seems to be more going on than revenge. Geoffrey finds himself landed with the nearly hopeless trial of a celebrity jockey.
I delayed reading this because I didn't want to read the story of a hero who was as badly trapped as Geoffrey. Once I got going on it the momentum of the story kept me reading, even though SILKS doesn't have the heart of some of Francis's other books, for example BANKER.
Am a Dick Francis fan & this was my first foray into the father/son combo & a big disappointment. Dick Francis is a remarkable author. He is/was somehow able to maintain tension and capture your affections for his male protagonists, so full of old world charm and vulnerability, yet his stories could be quite slow and detailed.
With Silks, the detail lacks the Francis magic. It permeates the story, making it ponderous, leaden, full of portentious significance that invariably ends by trailing off, being dropped, or with a dead end. The hero is just pathetic and whiney, not charming. The story is an endless nothing with a clever wrap-up and pay off, but I will not be able to get through another D&FF title.
This was very poor even for Dick Francis. He isn't much of a writer but most of his books are an entertaining read. This was full of holes and really unconvincing. Surely a barrister would have gone straight to the police, not tried to solve the case himself? As this was so unconvincing I couldn't take the book seriously. Some of the detail was very poor. For instance an amateur jockey who had his own horse in training would have known a lot more about horses than this man, he would have even known the drugs used for sedation. I thought a lot of the description to create colour was very laboured. Really bad, worst book I've read in quite a while.
I liked this book. Like all of Dick Francis' novels it took me a little while to get into, but once I was in I was hooked. The ending is quite surprising and comes suddenly. I think he did an excellent job of keeping this book a good length, not too long, not too short. I also found this book a little easier to understand than some of his other books, as far as horse terminology and knowledge goes.
Decent legal thriller surrounding the business of horse racing and breeding. My first Dick Francis. I can see why I shelved so many of this series in my bookstore days. I'll definitely recommend these to my dad. :)
This time,Dick Francis and his son Felix take the action to the courtroom with the inevitable racing backdrop.Murder,blackmail and violence are familiar elements but Felix does a pretty good job,under the tutelage of his father.The ending is a surprise.
This is another book I read last month. I got this from a second-hand bookstore. I have always loved Dick Francis. Every time I see a book of his, it is automatic that I buy it. I have a list of authors that I look for first, every time I go inside a bookstore. If I can't find any of their works, then the digging and reading the back covers start.
Silks mean two things. One is to mean a QC - Queen's Counsel. An English (British) term for senior lawyers. Informally or commonly referred to as a silk. Silks also refer to the clothes worn by jockeys. The lead character in this book, Geoffrey Mason, is both of those things. He's a lawyer and an amateur jockey who rides his own Thoroughbred in races.
If you are familiar with Dick Francis, you already know that his novels always have jockeys, steeplechase racing, horses and feature a different profession each time. As mentioned earlier, this book talked of lawyers. And if there are lawyers, a crime or a case is surely in the midst. In this story, an alleged murder of the number one jockey by another top jockey. The accused begged for Mason to represent him in court.
Every time I read a Dick Francis novel, I always ask myself if I can spot the antagonist or if I can see the way the story is going. It is a game. I try to pay attention to the writing to get clues that might help me. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes, I was not. It's not an absolute science. It always ends up that the author is more clever than I am. In this story, I had no clue. I have no idea how to connect the people to the suspect. And again, Francis has done it in a very unsuspecting way. It is always a delight every time he stumps me with his unusual ways of thinking.
I gave this book 5/5 stars. Of course, there is no question. I don't think I have read one from him that disappointed me. That is why he is one of my favorite authors. His novels are always a treat. They are like guilty pleasures for me. My only expectation each time is to be surprised with the twists. I have read a number of his books and it is still a wonder to me how he comes up with these unique stories. I thought, by now, he should have run out of ideas but it seems as if there is always a book that I have not read.
Just like all his other novels, I have enjoyed my presence in the courtroom as Mason tries his damnedest to put doubt on the accused. And I cheered when he and his horse finally won in the last run of their racing careers.
I could remember feeling like I was living in a time warp. There had been so much rushing around going on by others while I had sat still and alone in my grief and the hours and days had dragged by. - Dick and Felix Francis, Silks -
I have featured Dick Francis in my three-of-a-kind posts. Three of a kind showcases three books from my favorite authors. I have not done one lately but will make one again as soon as I have caught up with all my reviews. I came up with this in the earlier stages of my blog to tell everyone about the books and stories I love. Here are three of his books and they are my favorites. I hope you too will love them.
This is I believe my second test of the Felix Francis co-written books, and I was pleasantly surprised again; it was good fun! The characters were interesting, the dynamics fun to experience, and fascinatingly this book spoke to some dynamics of law that correlated to encounters with law elsewhere in my life and reading. For example, in one or two places it mentioned the differences between the UK/US legal styles and the mainland Europe ones; something which I'd only recently become aware of and had been examining. It was kind of cool to see this topic come up also in my escapist reading. And for escapist purposes this book was just good fun.
More broadly I had one major point of appreciation and one major complaint with this book. The point of appreciation was that it was a fascinating exploration of a dynamic in which the legal system, and maybe any legal system, simply breaks down. This was a fascinating meditation on the system as a whole and whether there are cases that either need to be better accounted for or which ultimately no system can fully protect against. And correspondingly it was a meditation on what one might need to do on encountering such a case.
My major complaint was related to this however and has become a standing complaint with Dick Francis books as a whole; namely a complete and total disregard for or even disdain of the police. While some of the difficulties of the case seemed genuinely problematic, a number of other parts felt like a byproduct of the characters being idiots and trying to not only handle things themselves but actively hide them from the police! And somehow the police in these books are always at least a half hour away, sometimes much longer, in both central London and in more remote areas of England, and they never really seem to care and generally seem to take pleasure in laughing at people's expectations of police help. One might argue that some of this was required to set up the story of this book, but even for that purpose it was excessive and annoying. And it was so to the degree of practically counting as bad writing; so much else in these books is realistic, fascinating explorations of diverse worlds, people, and perspectives; I very much wish for once the police world would be treated similarly.
This is not a new frustration, even if it's a stronger than usual one in this book, but with that one caveat I'd still recommend it as a fun and worthwhile read.