Odds Against Dick Francis 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 […]
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For Kicks Dick Francis In “For Kicks” Francis continues to demonstrate the mastery of the horse-thriller genre he established in “Nerve.” Even more so than “Nerve,” “For Kicks” is slightly bizarre, unrealistic wish fulfillment, but that in no way diminishes its charm–in fact, it is one of the key factors in its charm. Who doesn’t […]
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Hadji Murad Delphi Classics edition, with portrait of Tolstoy Decades after his time in the Caucasus, and years after he had turned his back on writing the kind of fashionable, worldly novels that had propelled him to fame, Tolstoy took up his fiction-writing pen again in order to create “Hadji Murad,” often considered to be […]
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Sevastopol Sketches Leo Tolstoy Riding on the success of “Childhood,” his first work, burning with patriotism and thirsting for adventure, the young Leo Tolstoy, ardent army officer, requested a transfer to Sevastopol during the Crimean War. His presence there did not win the war for the Russians. But it did launch Tolstoy’s career, provide him […]
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The Ghosts of Galway Ken Bruen “A failed suicide is a sad, sad *****” So begins “The Ghosts of Galway,” dropping the reader right into the action, as Jack Taylor, former Garda member and failed suicide, ends up, not kinder or wiser, but as a security guard, which he calls “Suicide by boredom.” Only things […]
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The Watchers Ellison Blackburn “The Watchers” series is a smart, unique pair of books about an archeologist, Mallory Jacks, who discovers a very unusual set of remains on a dig in England. Is it a hoax–or are our legends real? As I said about Mallory in my review of the first book, “If There Be […]
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Dead Cert Dick Francis “Dead Cert” wasn’t the first Dick Francis book I read–that honor belongs to “The Danger”–but it’s his first novel in what would turn out to be a long and storied career, so it seems fitting to start my “classics of Dick Francis” retrospective with it. Reading “Dead Cert” after becoming familiar […]
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Going Scapegoat David A. Buchanan David Buchanan opens “Going Scapegoat” with a story about getting warned when setting off from a very secure American base on a very safe trip to downtown Riyadh “not to get scalped by no Injuns.” This story sets in motion his examination of scapegoating mechanisms in post-9/11 literary and cultural […]
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Crossfire Dick Francis and Felix Francis Last January I set an absolutely ridiculous Goodreads reading challenge for myself–so ridiculous that I’m embarrassed even to admit how high it is (okay, it was 200 books). Needless to say, unless a miracle occurs I’m not going to meet it, although I will say in my defense that […]
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The Last Child of Leif Chris Pridmore In “The Last Child of Leif” we follow the early adventures of Valiant, a young prince rescued by his bodyguard from a palace plot that kills his father. Valiant and his guardian escape, only to find themselves on the run and caught up in something much bigger than […]
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