Unusual book for Francis...horses aren't as big a part of the storyline as usual...it mainly circulates in the world of...Wine. A guy with a sensitive palate for fine Wine tries to track down a murderer in a very unusual way...I actually found the background about the different taste signatures and methods of production and what not very interesting. Good one, but definitely not the usual Francis.
Hey, this audio book is awesome! One of the best of Dick Franis' that I had listened to. Tony Britton does an EXCELLENT job of reading with the correct expression, clearing of the throat, nervousness, and women's voices. I really noticed and appreciated it. Besides that, this is a riveting novel, one of Francis' best and one of my favorites. I had read it already a couple of times, and wanted to listen to it while traveling. This tape is unabridged, which is great.
Dick Francis reminds me of a master craftsman of say fine furniture. His quality and style are such that, though all his pieces are different, they nevertheless bear the mark of his unique style and craftsmanship. Once in a while you'll come across a piece that's so unique that at first you're not absolutely sure it's one of his but a very short inspection convinces you that, yes, as odd as this piece may be, it's his.
That's a long way of alluding to the fact that Francis' books tend to be highly formulaic. For the most part you know what you are getting before you even open the cover. The formula consists of a highly independent, iconoclastic, extremely self-reliant protagonist who, for reasons he doesn't fathom, has become the center of a storm that, before everything has played out, will involve him in intrigue, murder and at least one act of horrific violence aimed at him personally. There will be some sort of at least marginal if not central theme of horse racing and a specific theme to the book-precious gems, photography or, in the case of Proof, the wine business.
Proof is a bit of a departure form the formula. The horrific violence is right up front in the form of a ghastly automobile accident. Tony Beach, the protagonist of this accident is present to experience it though he emerges unscathed. The accident does, however, bring him into contact with a private investigator. Their shared experience leads them to get ot know one another and the investigator, realizing Tony has some skills he needs, drags him into one of his cases. Thus Tony is an involved party to, but not the focus of the intrigue of this novel.
At an annual party to celebrate the success of the racing season everything seemed to be running well to form. Until a runaway horsebox ploughed into the marquee. Witness to the terrible death and destruction, wine merchant Tony Beach knows it is just one of those tragic accidents. But when his expert advice is called on by the police over sub-standard alcohol in a local night club, connections start to click. In helping Gerard McGregor, a corporate investigator, Tony finds himself up against a cruel and chilling adversary.
For an abridged reading, this one is very good. The story itself is superb! Because of his knowledge of wine and liquor and his involvement in a horrific accident at an event he was catering, a lonely, widower wine merchant finds himself helping the authorities find the criminal who steals tanker-loads of wine and gin and passes it off as something better than it is. Dick Francis is ALWAYS a good read.
An Arab shiek killed by a runaway horse trailer, a sad widower who owns a wine shop, a gorgon who runs a restaurant, a steely-eyed police inspector, an even steelier-minded ultra-private investigator, a horse trainer's wife, and an investigation into forged wine labels, and stolen truckloads of the best Scotch, all meld into an entertaining and suspenseful read as only Francis can do it!