Book Review of Reflex

Author: Dick Francis
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 534 more book reviews

Dick Francis has a formula that almost all of his books follow, but the details that Francis provides makes it work every time.
In this case, our hero is a jockey. Now, many people may be like me- they never got around to reading Dick Francis because they thought all the books are just about jockeys and horseracing. Well, as it turns out, most of the books written in the past 25 years DON'T have jockeys as their primary characters. So I wound up reading some of those, and then just had to read more Francis. And I came to this one, in which the hero IS a jockey - and I liked it anyway!

Our hero is a jockey and amateur photographer who has led a rather rootless life. Left by his mother with a series of friends all through his childhood, he has no close attachments, and in the course of the book must finally learn to acknowledge emotions and grow close to people. The middle-aged woman in this one is one of the women who took care of him when he was young; he spends part of the book trying to find places from his childhood. There's also the stock character of the cunning, wily, whim-of-iron old lady, who thinks the world is motivated solely by greed, and a few other stock types. There are also some unusual bits- although this book was written in the 80's, before the current trend toward acceptance of homosexuality, Francis has included in our hero's checkered childhood a loving gay couple who give him the most stable part of his upbringing. Our hero is himself quite straight, and falls in love with the middle-aged woman's daughter.

The details about photography are fascinating- maybe more than some people might want, and some of it so obscure you have to suspend disbelief a little to think that an amateur might figure out what was going on. But of course, that's part of our hero's hitherto unrevealed cleverness. Some of the photos have been part of what turns out to be one of the oddest blackmail schemes ever. We also get an unusual scheme for sulphide gas poisoning, one of the odder methods for potential murder... and some arson, assault, and other violence. It's not overdone, though.

If you're afraid of reading about jockeys and racing because you're not interested in those subjects, then this book will cure you of that fear.