Matt Shore, flying for a small air-taxi charter firm, took five passengers on a routine flight to the races: two jockeys, a trainer, an owner, and a friend. Awaiting them in the summer sky lay a quick extinction, which was avoided by a coincidence, an instinct, a hair's breadth...Matt guessed the sudden death had been aimed at one of his passengers: he didn't know which and he didn't particularly want to know. But gradually, remorselessly, he found himself being sucked in, until in the end the information was forced upon him, and action became necessary for survival.
One of the best Dick Francis books I've read
Shorter than others of Francis' books, but entertaining.
This early (1971) book to his collection is delightfully different from the others. As pilot Matt Shore investigates a series of bombings apparently aimed at one of his passengers, famous jockey Colin Ross, the points of similarity to Francis's later race-course thrillers will be obvious: a manly, laconic hero; race-course settings.. But the characters here are drawn with a warmth and humanity and the writer seems truly interested in their relationships. I love the moment when the hard-as-nails trainer suddenly turns on one of the other passengers in Matt's small plane and tells him off for his lamentable self-absorption--only to find that the slightly-crooked jockey she's been at odds with throughout the story is cheering her on; the scene in the attic of a stately mansion, where Matt finds the gentle and kindly, if somewhat befuddled, Duke of Wessex absorbed in playing with his ten-year-old nephew and the model trains they both love; the picnic Matt shares on a riverbank with the famous jockey and his sisters, who generously open their family to include a near-stranger even while they deal with their grief at knowing that one of the young women is fatally ill--all those and any number of other moments lift this from the standard contemporary crime thriller into something more meaningful, and make this a book worth reading, or even reading again.
An oldie but well worth finding. Good plot twists, fine character development. Fun, interesting, and sometimes scary. Good stuff from a legendary master.