An Odd1's Reviews > Silks

Silks by Dick Francis
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's review
May 14, 2012

it was ok

"Silks", by Dick and Felix Francis, are colorful jockey race costumes and senior position desired by narrator, widower, junior barrister (acts in courtroom, solicitor does not) and amateur part-time jockey Geoffrey "Perry" Mason, young 35. Like "Shattered" and other Francis books, hero violently attacked, unsure why; relative dead from cancer, here mother from leukemia; pretty girl Eleanor adds bed play "making love with a broken back" p413, rebutting "I had always thought lawyers were boring and now I know they are." p227

Champion Steve Mitchell is jailed without bail, for fatal pitchfork stabbling of fellow jockey Hamish "Scot" Barlow. Mason's client Julian Trent reinforces "be a good little lawyer" with baseball bat behind legs and genital stomp, telephoned whisper "Do as you are told" and similar letter, but as barrister he cannot take case, soliciter required. He succumbs to threats; the legal system fails. Researching months earlier, finds vet Millie, Scot's sister and Steve's dumped girl, declared suicide from overdose of animal tranquilizer not available at her clinic.

Gruesome unnecessary details, like a psychopath "tore his wife limb from limb, with nothing more than his bare hands and a potato peeler" p158 and international judge-jury trivia p159. The solution is clever, but so obscure I forget within days of reading, dependent on specialist facts unknown by average readers. The ending double barrels present-day justice system.

Mason's reticence for truth almost kills his father, has the bumbling ring of reality. Cut the boring bits, a compelling story beneath. Law fails the man of law. Gripping courtroom reveal revved up by fight to the death. Probable marriage is sop to happy ending.

Millie blackmailed champion Peninsula's owner, Trent's godfather. He killed her, then intimidated jury to release godson to kill her brother. Scot innocently took framed photo to remember her by, that was evidence of racing crime. Racing Rules date horse ages from 1 January, so officially four-year old Peninsula ran illegally as three-year old, big prize money defaulted.

The empty frame left behind was a vital clue. The first foal Millie delivered was born earlier than registered. The date was proved by the groom behind her. He returned to South Africa, then died 26 Dec 2004 in Thailand tsunami. The unforgettable true disaster adds realism. When Mason has to kill Trent, justice system is proven a dud.)

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