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Odds Against

(Sid Halley #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,760 ratings  ·  187 reviews
Former hotshot jockey Sid Halley landed a position with a detective agency, only to catch a bullet from some penny-ante thug. Now, he has to go up against a field of thoroughbred criminals--and the odds are against him that he'll even survive.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1965)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  4,760 ratings  ·  187 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horses
”It came, the blinding flash in the eyes, as we soared into the air. White, dazzling, brain shattering light, splintering the day into a million fragments and blotting out the world in a blaze as searing as the sun.

I felt Revelation falling beneath me and rolled instinctively, my eyes open and quite unable to see. There there was the rough crash on the turf and the return of vision from light to blackness and up through grey to normal light.”

 photo Steeplechase_zpsb9f5d678.jpg

Two years ago Sid Halley crashed during a horse r
James Thane
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book introduces Sid Halley who, if memory serves, is the only protagonist that Dick Francis ever used more than once. Halley was a very successful jockey until he fell from a horse which trampled his left hand, abruptly ending his career. He accepts a job with a detective agency that has a racing division, but he spends a couple of years simply hanging around the office without being given any meaningful assignments. But he's willing to go with the flow, or the not-flow, as the case may be, ...more
 Li'l Owl
Sid Halley book one is a Fast Paced Ride All The Way to the Wire!

I was never particularly keen on my job before the day I got shot and nearly lost it, along with my life. But the .38 slug of lead that made a pepper shaker out of my intestines left me with fire in my belly in more ways than one. Otherwise I should never have met Zanna Martin, and would still be held fast in the spider threads of departed joys, of no use to anyone, least of all myself.
It was the first step to liberation, that bul
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
This is an old-fashioned delight: a taut, well-plotted novel that's grounded in competence, suspense, and nitty-gritty professional details. While also being laid-back and pleasant. This was my first Francis, but it definitely won't be my last.

Sid Halley used to be a jockey until his hand was badly mangled in a fall--Francis alludes to what a sharp horseshoe and a horse's full weight can do to you, and it's not pretty--and since then, he's been drifting through life without fully participating i
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Second Read: Sid Halley is a most interesting character. Having not read one since 2011, I was quite delighted to have found a copy and was able to read it. Going to keep hunting. My Mom was a huge Dick Francis fan and she introduced him to me. We were both hooked and really enjoyed it. This was like being with an old friend and it was most enjoyable. One of the few characters champion jockey-turned-racetrack mystery writer Dick Francis has ever written more than one novel about is champion jock ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sid Halley used to be a jockey, one of the greats. He used to be alive.

Now he merely drifts in a job at that he thinks was given to him out of pity; pity for a cripple with a deformed and useless hand. Then a two-bit crook takes a pot shot at Halley who winds up, once again, in a hospital. On leave, visiting with the father of his ex-wife, Halley is drawn into a complex investigation of financial fraud, crooked real estate deals and race track politics. Along the way he will learn to confront hi
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Christopher Woitach
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have read every Dick Francis book, here is what they have to offer:

Great characters

Excellent stories

Well thought out plots

Great books!

Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
The first of the wonderful Sid Halley books ... my favorites of the Dick Francis horse racing mystery thrillers - perhaps because of the damaged (in this case, literally) nature of the hero protagonist?
Jo Ring
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always good!
James  Love
Mix equal parts of Agatha Christie, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene and Leslie Charteris. Shake well. And garnish with a dash of Grey and L'Amour.

Dick Francis is the perfect author for an enjoyable reading experience. His characters remind me of watching the old Roger Moore Saint TV show or the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies... just good clean fun.
An Odd1
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action
Re-read much Francis. Scary when warped sadistic couple attack his already deformed hand. I've never even been to a horse race, but Francis has a knack - Dick, not son. I'm planning to work my way up (down?) series (again).

Sid Halley narrates rough recuperation. Fall as jockey deformed left hand, so he has "worked" for two years, hanging around cramped PI firm for Hunt Radnor 71 p 225. His former father-in-law Admiral Charles Roland believes sadistic Howard Kraye ~50 "rotten underneath" p 33 sab
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In "Odds Against," Francis's fourth fictional outing, he takes a decidedly darker turn. Although not lacking in evil villains, both "Dead Cert" and "For Kicks" had a strong aspect of glamorous wish fulfillment, and so, in its own way, did "Nerve." Alan, Rob, and Daniel all had tough times, sure, but overall they were living lives other people think they would want to lead. In "Odds Against," though, Francis creates for the first--but not the last--time a hero whose life is decidedly unaspiration ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Quite advanced for its time, really. Sid Halley, an ex-jockey, is a doubly damaged anti-hero: not only does he have a smashed hand that leaves him partially disabled, he was abandoned by his mother as a toddler. After his riding career is over, he is offered a job as an investigator but his emotional scars keep him from doing much, until he meets someone as wounded as himself. Halley is a typical Francis drifter-through-life, emotionally isolated but still financially comfortable enough to know ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fast, fun read, well up to the usual Francis standards.
Sid Halley, former jockey, has been working for a P.I. firm since his final race, which cost him the use of a hand. He had only been marking time until being shot during an ambush. He's given a big case involving racecourses that leads him to truly become an investigator, but at great cost.
Halley is a fantastic hero, sardonic and pragmatic, and the support characters are all swell. The mystery is properly twisty, and there is some rather
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dick Francis is a delight. The man can spin a mystery/thriller like no other, and featuring horses to boot. Great characters, hijinks, and suspense. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and also like or do not mind stories about horse racing, you won't be disappointed. Barring some minor 1960s-appropriate sexism (although it's a lot better than most books of that time that I've read), it really holds up even 50+ years later.
Book Concierge
Odds Against (Sid Halley, #1) by Dick Francis
Odds Against – Dick Francis
Audiobook performed by Geoffrey Howard

From the book jacket: Steeplechase jockey Sid Halley was forced to retire when a devastating accident crippled his left hand. Now he spends his days working for a detective agency. Recently separated from his wife, he struggled to adjust not only to his new single life out of racing but also to his handicap. On a routine stakeout, he walks straight into a bullet and his life is changed – again. Halley searched for th
Joe  Noir
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very first Sid Halley novel, and one of Dick Francis’ best.

Sid Halley, the former jockey with the disfigured, nearly useless hand, a failed marriage, and a job as a private investigator. He’s not really required to do any work, and he does precious little. Until his ex-father in law pushes him out of depression and into action.

Action, suspense, insight into both horse racing and human nature. Evil villains, sadistic violence, a few deft twists. All in all a thumping good read.

Halley would
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
This was my first Dick Francis book. I have been avoiding them for a long time - even though my mother was a keen advocate. In browsing the shelves of Foul Play last winter, my favorite mystery bookshop in Columbus, Ohio, I found Odds Against. Since it is the first in the Sid Halley series, I decided to get my feet wet. I am glad I did.

My long avoidance of Dick Francis was my belief that the backdrop of horse racing would be a detractor for me, even though I was born in blue grass country. There
Francis, Dick - 4th book / 1st Sid Halley

Sid Halley, an injured jockey, becomes a private eye and carries out some work for his father-in-law, who believes a man is trying to financially ruin Seabury racecourse, so that it can be sold to property developers.

The first Sid Halley book with some very nasty villains and brutal scenes but great action and a memorable story. Loved it!
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
probably the best known thriller by Dick Francis, the introduction of Sid Halley - steeplechase jockey turned private investigator. It contains all the trademark aspects of mr. Francis heroes and plot development, still fresh close to the start of his writing career
Louise Hartgen
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I ever came across a Dick Francis main character that didn't engage my interest, but Sid Halley is a cut above the average. That doesn't mean he's my favourite, no, that privilege would have to go to Kit Fielding of "Break in" and "Bolt", but Sid Halley always makes for interesting reading. He is deep, complex, and can be very infuriating at times, but he never bores.

This was my first reading of book 1 in the Sid Halley series, though I've read all the others several times. Once Ch
Liz Mc2
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, mystery
I binged on several Dick Francis audiobooks in a row, and they are all blurring together in my mind.... Sid’s difficulties in coming to terms with his injury and consequent loss of career are presented sympathetically, although some of the ways he thinks of himself might seem dated today. This novel explores his “waking up” and finding new interest in his career for an investigation agency. The mystery is good, but what I liked most are Sid’s relationships with his father-in-law, with Zanna Mart ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this is my favorite character in all of the Dick Francis mysteries. I read this years and years ago after my dad introduced me to the world that Dick Francis wrote about. I think there are three books with Sid as the main character, but this one is the best. He takes what has happened to him and makes it work instead of letting it rule his life.
Excellent mystery set in the horse racing world.
Definitely recommend.
Kim Denise
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with the Dick Francis novels in my horse-crazy teens, and read and re-read them into my early thirties. Now, twenty years later, I've suddenly taken a notion to read them again. I started with Odds Against because I'd always felt the Sid Halley "trilogy" were among his best--and I was not mistaken. The story is as taut and well-paced, the characters as absorbing, and the writing as cleanly understated as ever. I feel a Francis binge coming on...

Now if they'd just format them for K
L.G. Cullens
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
One of another series of books I read some years back. About all I remember is that they weren't as interesting to me as Tony Hillerman's books. Of course, I could identify more with the Native American scene than I could with the English horse racing scene.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of his best, start to finish.
Rita Chapman
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plenty of action when Sid Halley, former jockey, takes on his first assignment as an investigator for Hunt Radnor. Another great novel from Dick Francis.
Tamia Burt
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've reread this one countless times. And I never tire of it. The characters and plotting completely satisfy every time.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm so glad I saw the movie of this book first. It was part of a four-episode series on British television called The Racing Game. The first episode was an adaptation of this book; the remainder were based on the characters and written by screenwriters in consultation with Mr. Francis. I enjoyed them, especially the first, and liked the casting, so I felt I'd like to read the book to see how it differed (having already read the second in the series, Edgar-winner Whip Hand.

Had I read the book fir
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Play Book Tag: (POLL BALLOT) Odds Against / Dick Francis - 3.5*** 7 11 May 06, 2020 04:54PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Sid Halley (5 books)
  • Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2)
  • Come to Grief (Sid Halley, #3)
  • Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4)
  • Dick Francis's Refusal (Sid Halley, #5)

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