LJ's Reviews > Dead Heat

Dead Heat by Dick Francis
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's review
Dec 04, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: male_author, suspense, england, chicago, contemporary_post_1945
Read in November, 2007

DEAD HEAT (Suspense-Max Moreton-England/Chicago-Cont) – VG
Francis, Dick and Felix Francis – 41st book
Michael Joseph, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780718153656
First Sentence: I wondered if I was dying
*** Son of a jockey and trainer, Max Moreton has found his vocation not on the track, but in the kitchen. He is the co-owner and Michelin-star chef of The Hey Market in Newcastle. The night before the annual Guinness 200, Max prepares a special dinner at the race course. The result is seven dead and scores of others, including Max, violently sick from food poisoning. Even with his kitchen now shut down, Max goes ahead with the lunch he’d committed to serving at the Guinness. It’s not food poisoning that kills this time, but a bomb. Although the police think the bomb was intended for a Saudi prince whose party was originally supposed to be in this box, two more attempts on Max’s life, have left him determined to find the motive and killer behind the devastation.
*** I have been a huge Dick Francis fan since the early 1970s. When his wife, Mary, died, he announced his retirement from writing. It was understandable, but I was devastated. He then came back with Under Orders and I was elated. And now, despite his age and ill health but with the help of his son, Felix, we now have Dead Heat. Life is good! I don’t cook, but have become a fan of many cooking shows and was delighted to find that the occupation of our current protagonist. The story still had enough of the trademark theme of horses to make the book work as well and the connection between the two elements was well-explained and logically handled. One of the many things I enjoy about Francis’ books is that I always learn something. Who knew that improperly red beans could poison or that you could make a horse think it is pregnant? Another hallmark of Francis is that his protagonist is, in a sense, an average person, successful in their field, thrown into extraordinary circumstances and forced to overcome it, and survive. Yes, Max gets injured and keeps going, but he also knows when to cut-and-run. Some may find the love-at-first-sight relationship a bit much, but it worked for me and I was delighted that, finally, one of Francis’ protagonists gets a relationship that works. Was it a perfect book? No, not quite. I’d still like to take a blue pencil to every portent in this, and every author’s, book, and it did lack development of the secondary characters. But it was darned good read and one Francis’ best in awhile.

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