I’ve been a fan of Dick Francis since being introduced to his work in 1987. I was at a friend’s house, and I was saying that I like horses, and horse racing, and her mom suggested that I might really enjoy his books. Normally I’m not a big fan of mysteries, but I was sucked in from the start. That first book was Break-In, after which I had to read Bolt, which had the same characters. Luckily, Francis had been writing for years, so I had a large library to go back and read.
Francis and his wife were a team. Their mysteries did most often center around the world of horse racing, but there was usually another aspect that they would go and research. If the story was going to take place on a train traveling across Canada, they would go and travel across Canada on a train. If he were a photographer, or a pilot, they would research that field as well. I believe that they had a lot of fun over the years. When she died in 2000, I thought that was the end of his writing, but instead, he went on and started writing with his son, Felix. With the death of Dick Francis this year at the age of 90, we are presented with his last book, Crossfire.
The protagonist this time is Capt. Thomas Forsyth, an infantryman in Afghanistan, who is sent home after an IED explodes, blowing off his foot. He spends several months in the hospital, then is sent home for 6 months to convalesce, before he has a hope of getting back to the military life that he loves. He is convinced that he can get past the loss of his foot and get back to the battlefield with his men. Home, in this case, is the home of his mother, a successful racehorse trainer who has taken some bad tax advice from a crooked accountant, and is now years in arrears on her taxes, terrified of being found out, and paying blackmail money to an unknown voice on the other side of the phone.
Enter Forsyth, who is determined to get his mother out of trouble while he figures out his own life. And of course, in the Francis tradition, there is plenty of danger and death to go around. I really enjoyed this page turner of a mystery. I wouldn’t call it my favorite Francis book, but it was a good one. I’d even go so far as to read a solo book by Felix, should he decide to write one someday.