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Driving Force

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,803 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
"New York Times" bestselling grand master of crime fiction
Jockey Freddie Croft discovers a high-stakes conspiracy that exposes the seedy underside of horse-racing-and faces deadlier odds of survival than in any steeplechase run.
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Berkley Books (first published January 1st 1992)
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Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francis
This is a well written mystery. I did not suspect the killer until near the end. The central character is Freddie Croft, a retired race jockey who now runs a horse transport business. One of his drivers picks up a hitchhiker(strictly forbidden by Freddie) who dies of a heart attack. This starts a chain of events that include murder, attempted murder, computer viruses and more.
Seriously, nothing exciting happens in this book. He talks forever about the boring bits and just sort of skims over the interesting parts. Gosh, I wanted the main character to just stop thinking about everything.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horses, own
Another beautifully written mystery from Dick Francis. Most of his books are not part of a series. It is nice to be able to just pick one off the bookshelf without wondering if I am reading them in the wrong order.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
An excellent murder mystery with a bunch of players and angles. I find I always enjoy a Francis mystery more when his protagonist has more skin in the game. In the previous book, Comeback, Peter was just kind of swept up in events. He helped those under siege more out of a sense of obligation than personal investment. Here, Freddie is the one under siege. He is deeply personally invested, since it's his employee murdered and his business on the line.

This was the book that introduced me to Cockne
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Dick Francis books go, I think Driving Force is pretty middle of the road. The mystery isn't completely predictable from the get go, it's not terribly violent but there are a few violent episodes, and in the end everything is figured out and dealt with. Of course, in the case of Freddie Croft, much like most of Francis's other protagonists, he is unflinching in the face of danger, unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth, and much smarter than any other character gives him credit for. The form ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Freddie makes a great character because he manages to run a horse transport fleet in a friendly but detached way (doesn't have to like all of his customers to take their money), unearth a mystery (he really wants to know why his best mechanic got murdered), and call in backup for problems too big for him (mysterious glass vials with milky fluid). He knows what he can do well, and what others can do better. Similarly, the crime and the criminals are quite balanced. There's the likable yet unprinc ...more
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed very much. Good range of characters in and interesting and believable plot. Much interest in the descriptions of life behind the scenes in the horse racing world.
Two variables that have previously made me enjoy Francis' books also this time were factors playing a role - eccentric characters, and comments about computers (...written during the mesolithic, or close enough...). Two illustrative quotes:

"In some distant past, the place had been a chauffeur’s lodging, although the house it had served had long gone. Keeping me up to date on developments, for months and months Jogger had conducted a running battle with good souls on the local council who wanted
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, suspense
I categorized this novel as both suspense and mystery, because all of the elements for each genre are there, but honestly, Dick Francis almost deserves his own category. It could be said that his writing is 'formulaic' (same plot, same type of hero-character, same type of conflict, same resolution... the good guy *does* win in the end but often has to go through some pain/danger beforehand!) Certainly for now, I am finding this author addictive.

Freddy Croft (like the author himself) used to be a
Aurora Dimitre
This book was free; I found it in the post office at my college with a post-it note that said "free!" on it. I probably never would have picked it up otherwise, and that's just as well. Mysteries and thrillers are something I've been trying to get into, but even though I didn't see the end of this one coming, I didn't enjoy it all that much. I guess I really don't care about horses. I mean, I knew that. I knew that I didn't care about horses. But now I know for like, sure that I really don't car ...more
Diane Zwang
Dick Francis has written several books but this is the only one I have read. This is a mystery set in England. Main character is Freddie Croft who runs a business transporting horses for their owners. He is an ex-Jockey and comfortable in the horsing industry. The mystery surrounds one of his drivers breaking the cardinal rule of picking up a hitch-hiker (this is on the book jacket).

This book was slow to start and the main character Freddie is an understated man. There are many characters to ke
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mostly listen to audio books when driving, and I didn't have many long trips this time of year, which is why it took so long to finish listening to this book. Francis is my go to author in the sense that if nothing I have currently available is appealing at the time, I usually return to one of his books since no matter how many times I read or listen to them, they are still enjoyable. This one is still in the racing world, but involves a former jockey's new career in a horse transport business ...more
Sunanda Kesavadas
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first DF I ever read. I enjoyed this one thoroughly and reread it several times. Of course, at the time I didn't know that the hero was just like all other DF heroes - kind, friendly, dealing with everyday issues and villains with clear headed thinking and a resolve of steel. I enjoyed the trademark wry humor and the way DF can make you empathize with the characters. I had no idea about horses or racing and I can safely say that this book gave me the impetus to learn about horses (i ...more
Suzanne Borcherds
Great read.

It is always a pleasure to read a Duck Francis novel! I know nothing about horse racing but am fascinated by all of the interesting and educational information found in his books about the many facets surrounding the horse racing industry. I would definitely recommend all of the books written by this
Alice Yoder
My first Dick Francis book. It was pretty good, considering it was about horse transport and horses. I know more now than I did. Likable characters, good storyline that kept you guessing who was the bad guy(s).
Margaret Lawrence
Nail biting

Another good one from the Francis stable. As usual he keeps his reader guessing to the end. Highly recommended by me. Can't wait for the next.
LA la
Vaibhav Singh
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like thrillers and/or horses go ahead.
Russell Atwood
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good to the last drop. Dick Francis' final novel is not his best, but it moves at a brisk pace with memorable characters and artful thrills
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Great plot. Lots going on in the transport of horses for their owners.
Anne Roszczewski
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first of Dick Francis' books I have read. It kept my interest and was thoroughly enjoyable. Cleaver twists and turns and mysteries solved. All in all a good read.
Arden Pruden
While the book itself is not poorly written, it's definitely not written as a thriller, which is what I assumed when I picked it up. The book has quick pacing, but due to the way it's written I found myself bored through the vast majority of it.

It doesn't age well, having almost an entire chapter devoted to explaining computer viruses. I will concede that at the time this book was written they were less common and less known about, but when you're reading it in 2018 it's much less worth the 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 tha
John Marsh
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, owned, 2016, ebook
Not the best of Dick Francis' novels, imo. The plot was all right, and most of the characters were well written; but the middle third of the novel dragged a bit. Francis thought/talked a little too much about computer viruses, and having a huge chunk of the storyline be about equine viruses as well was a weird combo.
The sudden, burning hatred of the craziest-psycho of the "bad guys" literally seemed to come out of nowhere.....? (I mean, who does these things...?)
Also, the protagonist had a daug
Kristine Hansen
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I read this back when it came out, but not since. The rating holds up though on re-reading so I'm very glad I found my way back into this book after so long.

First of all, I have a whole new respect for Freddie Croft and the work he does, reading this book at this point in my life. I read this initially back before I had horses. Since then I've purchased horses in Louisiana and shipped them to Colorado, and then later shipped horses from Colorado to California. We've also done a bit of transporti
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery Lovers and Horse Fans
Francis was prolific, writing about 40 mystery novels set in the world of horse-racing, usually, as in this case, in first person, and only six of the novels featured recurring characters. Part of why Francis' novels wear well is that instead of having some amateur stumble into murder after murder a la Marple or Fletcher, instead the novels feature different characters involved in desperate aspects of racing--not just jockeys but breeders, transporters, grooms, reporters, bloodstock agents, trai ...more
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general_mystery
I’ve yet to read a Dick Francis book I didn’t enjoy. His leading men all tend to be kind of the same guy, but it’s a character that works. Freddie Croft is tough, but not too tough… smart, but not too smart.. and somewhat of a reluctant ladie’s man. I always find myself picturing Francis’s leading men as the Daniel Craig version of James Bond.

But enough about Freddie! The story here is pretty solid and interesting, even to someone who doesn’t know patooie about horse-racing. Everything is from F
Racing related thrillers - Ex-jockey Freddie Croft owns and runs a fleet of 14 horse-vans - with all those drivers taking horses to and from races, trainers, and breeders "zigzagging round England" - a tricky setup full of scheduling headaches. So the last thing Freddie needs is a couple of suspicious deaths around the place. First, there's the shady, middle-aged gent who hitches a ride on one of Freddie's vans and inconveniently drops dead (of natural causes, it seems). Then there's Jogger, Fre ...more
Rena Sherwood
I was an American homeless in England. I don't quite fit in anywhere and I REALLY didn't fit in with the homeless crowd in the area of Bath. Occasionally boxes of used books were donated to Julian House, the homeless service place on Manvers Street. I didn't do drugs but I did do books (and still do.) Driving Force was a great consolation to me in this period.

Yes, I gave it five stars just for how it comforted me, but it also has many other things going for it:

* an explanation of Cockney rhyming
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not generally into mystery novels, so I don't have a lot to judge against (Tim owns a couple of Tony Hillerman books I was forced to read once, and I did read Murder On The Orient Express in highschool...), so I don't know if it's good or bad that I did figure out most of the answers by the end. I think a good mystery book should be clever enough that you can be surprised now and again, but not so tricky that there is no way you could have known the answer. I'd say this fits in there pretty ...more
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Play Book Tag: Driving Force by Dick Francis 3 stars 1 7 Jun 30, 2017 07:42AM  
  • Dick Francis's Bloodline
  • Tucker's Last Stand
  • That Day the Rabbi Left Town
  • East of Desolation
  • Betrayal
  • God in Concord (Homer Kelly, #9)
  • Fall of a Cosmonaut (Porfiry Rostnikov, #13)
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  • Undiplomatic Murder (Capital Crimes #27)
  • Das Dorf der Mörder (Sanela Beara, #1)
  • Murder-Go-Round: Thirteen at Dinner, The A.B.C. Murders, Funerals are Fatal
  • Maigret and the Nahour Case
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...

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