Monday, June 4, 2018

Another Solid Suspense Novel from Dick Francis

This is a fairly typical Dick Francis novel. In this case, the protagonist is Charles Todd, an artist who specializes in painting horses. He goes to spend a weekend with his cousin and the cousin's wife, only to arrive and find that the cousin's house has been burglarized. The cousin's wife, who apparently surprised the burglars by coming home unexpectedly, has been murdered. The cousin, Donald, is a wine merchant and is currently having some financial difficulties. The police suspect that he may have had his own home burgled and his wife killed in order to collect a large insurance settlement.

Todd, of course, knows that this is a nonsensical idea. In talking with his cousin, he discovers that the cousin recently bought a very valuable painting while on vacation in Australia. The painting, of course, is missing along with everything else of value in the house. In something of a lucky accident, Todd then discovers that someone else he knows had recently bought a similar painting in Australia. Her house has been robbed as well and burned to the ground for good measure.

The coincidence strikes Todd as simply too improbable. His cousin Donald has turned basically catatonic as a result of the death of his wife and in an effort to help him and to get him out from under the suspicions of the police, Todd flies to Australia and begins investigating the events from that angle. Inevitably, of course, he stirs up a hornets' nest and puts himself in danger of losing life and limb. But like a true Dick Francis protagonist, he will stubbornly battle through tremendous odd to see justice done or die trying.

Like virtually any Dick Francis novels, this is a fairly quick and entertaining read. Once you've read a number of these books, you always know what you're going to get, and so returning to one of them is like reuniting with an old friend. There won't be any big surprises, but it will be an enjoyable experience all the same.

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