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In The Frame (2006)

In the Frame (2006)
3.9 of 5 Votes: 4
042520958X (ISBN13: 9780425209585)
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In The Frame (2006)
In The Frame (2006)

About book: I stood on the outside of disaster, looking in. Sometimes you know right from the opening phrase that you're in for a treat and that you will probably abandon all other pursuits around the house until you turn the last page of the latest Dick Francis thriller. As I've already read about two dozen of his books, this isn't really a surprise, and what others may call predictable and repetitive in his characterization and plotting I call reliable, dependable and comfortably familiar.But Francis does like to use again and again certain techniques and certain types of heroes and villains, so the best way to differentiate between his stories is by the profession of the main character and by the sometimes touristical trivia of his chosen location, when the action moves overseas. By this metric, In the Frame is about painting, and of course the main area of interest for Charles Todd is the painting of horses. With his usual thorough research, Francis offers interesting bits about pigments, brush techniques, famous exponents of the art - Stubbs, Munnings. As for the travel trivia, Todd starts on his quest in England, but has to follow leads to Australia and New Zealand, where you can almost see the author taking down notes on the Ayers Rock, men only bars, Maori or volcanic terrains.With the connection betwen painting and racing established, the book includes some very good scenes around the racing track, from the small venues in the Home Counties to the extraordinary popularity of the sport at the Antipodes: Jump racing at Plumpton, and the familiar swelling of excitement at the liquid movement of racehorses. Paintings could never do justice for them: never. The moment caught on canvas was always second best. The story itself is a murder investigation, with Mr. Todd thrown into an unfamiliar role as private investigator in trying to help his cousin Donald who loses his wife in a brutal burglary in the opening sequence. Despite an improbable coincidence early on (view spoiler)[ Todd immediately stumbles upon a second burglary in an unrelated incident (hide spoiler)]

What is there to say about Dick Francis? As I think about all of his books (yes, this review covers all of his books, and yes I've read them all) I think about a moral ethical hero, steeped in intelligence and goodness embroiled in evil machinations within British horse racing society - either directly or indirectly. The heroes aren't always horse jockies, they can be film producers, or involve heroes engaged in peripheral professions that somehow always touch the horse racing world.But more than that, Francis's heroes are rational human beings. The choices made are rational choices directed by a firm objective philosophy that belies all of Francis's novels. The dialogue is clear and touched with humor no matter the intensity of evil that the hero faces. The hero's thoughts reveal a vulnerability that is touching, while his actions are always based on doing the right thing to achieve justice. Causing the reader to deeply care about the characters in a novel is a difficult thing to do. No such worries in a Francis novel. The point of view is first person, you are the main character as you read the story (usually the character of Mr. Douglas). The hero is personable, like able, non-violent but delivering swift justice with his mind rather than through physical means. This is not to say that violence is a stranger to our hero. Some of it staggering and often delivered by what we would think of normal persons living in British society.You will come to love the world of Steeple Chase racing, you will grow a fondness for horses, stables, trainers and the people who live in that world. You will read the books, devouring one after the other and trust me Dick Francis has a lot of novels (over 40 by my last count).There are several series woven into the fabric of Francis's work: notably the Sid Halley and Kit Fielding series.Assessment: Dick Francis is one of my favorite writers. I read his books with a fierce hunger that remains insatiable and I mourn his death.
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I always enjoy Dick Francis' books, especially the earlier ones. In this one, artist Dick (oh, sorry, Charles Todd) turns up for a visit with his cousin Donald, only to find the place crawling with press and police. The house has been thoroughly burgled, and Donald's wife Regina has been murdered with Donald being the prime suspect.A chance meeting with Maisie, whose house recently burned down, leads Charles on a trip to Australia and New Zealand to see if he can uncover an organised crime ring. Charles' trip to Melbourne coincides with the Spring Racing Carnival, culminating of course in the Melbourne Cup - which Charles decides to be a brilliant time for a spot of burglary of his own.
Holly Kenyon
I first read this book many years ago when I worked through every Dick Francis book written.It was even better this time around. Considering it was written in 1976 it holds up very well. Ok, the lack of mobile phones to assist the plight of our heroes and the use of telex instead does put a date on it, but it really doesn't detract from the story. It was great to have a rounded and complete story with plenty of edge of the seat moments packed into such a little book. Admittedly I am rather more used to the epics of Robin Hobb et al so the end seemed to arrive very quickly, but it was not short on content and Francis manages to tell a great story without waffling on unnecessarily. If I have to find a quibble, and it is only a little one, I would have liked to have experienced a little more of New Zealand and Australia while we were there. To take our lead character out to these places and not make a bit more of them was a shame. The descriptions we did get of the Wellington coast line were startlingly accurate and vivid. I know those rocks! Thoroughly enjoyable.
The book starts out with a huge bang - the main character finds his cousin in the aftermath of a burglary and the body of the cousin's wife in the library. Events take him all the way to Australia and New Zealand, and this is really a fast-paced story. So thrilling!I saw from my note that I'd last read this almost exactly 10 years ago, but I remembered practically nothing of the story. Great! ! ! I love Dick Francis books and there aren't going to be any more of them, so thank heavens for my poor memory!
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