Book Review of Rat Race

Rat Race
Rat Race
Author: Dick Francis
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Paperback
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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.