Saturday, January 29, 2011
Flying Finish: Review
Flying Finish is an aptly named mystery by Dick Francis. Published in 1966, I picked this one out for the Birth Year Challenge: Time Machine Version. I've read a couple of other Dick Francis books in the past, but I can't say that his mysteries really stick with me. This one will probably wind up going straight out my memory as well. It's a decently told story with a fairly interesting main character. But I can't say that Francis has ever sold me on his horse racing stories. I think perhaps if they were much more centered on the track and the actual horse racing, then he might do a better job of pulling me in. Every book I've read so far has dealt with some peripheral portion of the horse racing world. This one is no different.
Henry Grey, his main character, has been told that he has a bad disposition. His sister thinks so and so do his co-workers. Henry becomes convinced that all he needs is a new job; he's just tired of riding a desk all day. The only riding he really enjoys is as a part-time, amateur jockey. However, instead of trying his luck as a professional racer, he takes a job air transporting race horses and brood mares. He sees it as a way to get out of his rut and see a bit of the world...and maybe a way to change his fortune, if not his disposition. Things change all right...but how lucky is it when you find out that the planes are carrying more than horses? And your employer would rather you not know.
This is a fast-paced read. There's a bit of excitement in the final chapters...but no real mystery. The best part of the story--Henry's attachment to an Italian girl named Gabriella is interrupted (perhaps fatally) and the reader is left guessing at the outcome. Quite honestly, we could have skipped the "mystery" and gone with the human interest story and romance and I think it would have been a much better book. And, remember, this is a die-hard mystery fan talking here. Three stars--solid story-telling, but could have been better.