Dick Francis: Field of Thirteen

24 Festive Tasks: Door 3 – Melbourne Cup Day, Book


I’ve owned this collection of short stories since forever and decided our Melbourne Cup Day book task was the perfect occasion to pull it out and finally read it.  Candidly, I’m not sure why Dick Francis didn’t write more short stories: both his style of writing and his plot construction lent themselves perfectly to the short form, and I tend to view even some of his novels as short story constructs extended to novel length rather than books conceived as novels in the first place (even though they probably were).  Be that as it may, this is a very enjoyable collection featuring some of Francis’s best writing, set in the world of racehorse breeding (and stealing and betting), and against the great race events of Britain and the U.S., from the Grand National, Ascot, Sandown Park, the Marlborough Racing Club Gallops, Cheltenham and Stratford to the Kentucky Derby, plus the odd imaginary racetrack (unfortunately, not also the Melbourne Cup).  Not all of the mysteries involve a death, and not all the deaths that occur are caused intentionally — word to the wise, however, steeplechase racing is a hazardous sport for humans and horses alike, and Francis makes no bones about this particular fact.

 

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