Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A British Jockey finds Himself in a Dangerous and Claustrophobic Situation in This Novel from Dick Francis

This is another fairly typical Dick Francis novel. The protagonist, Roland Britten, is an accountant by trade and an amateur jockey who loves to race. Like most Francis lead characters, Britten is single, a man who lives within himself and who few people know really well. He shares the courage and steel will of his fellow Francis protagonists--a man who will not be bullied or bribed and who will withstand almost any amount of pain or suffering rather than surrendering to the will of his adversaries.

As the book opens, Britten unexpectedly wins a very prestigious race. But even before he has a chance to celebrate his unlikely victory, he is kidnapped and rendered unconscious. He awakens to find himself bound in a sail locker of a yacht that is obviously out on the high seas. 

It's a dark, uncomfortable and claustrophobic situation, and Britten cannot figure out how or why he wound up there. "There was no one to pay millions for my release, no parents rich or poor ... I had no political significance and no special knowledge: I couldn't be bartered, didn't know any secrets, had no access to government papers or defense plans or scientific discoveries. No one would care more than a passing pang whether I lived or died ..."

Of course, he will live, at least for a while, or the novel would end after the second chapter. Britten will spend the rest of the book attempting to figure out how he wound up in the locker and who was responsible for putting him there. It's a good read although not one of Francis's best efforts, and fans of the author will know exactly what to expect.

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