TTP Review of DICK FRANCIS’S REFUSAL by Felix Francis

I have been a fan of Dick Francis almost as long as I’ve been a fan of reading and of books.  His writing career spanned more than five decades and included dozens of wonderful novels.  Francis passed away in 2010, and the world of literature lost one of the most gifted storytellers its ever known.  I feel like I owe him a debt of gratitude.  His novels not only provided countless hours of enjoyment, but he, at least in part, inspired me to launch my own writing career.  Francis, in case you’re unfamiliar with is work, wrote mystery novels and they all centered around horse racing in some way.  I know very little about that sport nor do I care to.  His books are still fantastic.  I decided, if he could do that with horse racing, why couldn’t I do it with auto racing?  A Shot at Redemption was born, and I’m confident you don’t need to be a supermodified fan to enjoy it.

There is no greater tribute to an author than for someone to carry on his/her work after the author’s death.  Francis’s final few novels, including Silks, Even Money and Crossfire were co-written by his son, Felix.  Felix Francis subsequently released Dick Francis’s Gamble (2011), and Dick Francis’s Bloodline (2012) under his own name.  I was thrilled he revisited the familiar horse racing theme.  In all honesty, though, I felt like those first two novels were missing a little something.  It was nothing I could put my finger on.  It just wasn’t the same.  When Dick Francis’s Refusal was released in 2013, I wasn’t sure if I’d read it.  If fact, for quite a while, I didn’t.  What finally sold me was the return of Sid Haley, the jockey turned detective who was also one of Dick Francis’s few reoccurring characters.  He was the one with the missing left hand.

In Refusal, Haley is forced out of retirement and strongly, even violently encouraged to sign a report stating that suspicions of race fixing are unfounded.  Of course the fix is on in a big way, but everyone is too scared to talk about the threatening Irishman who’s behind it all.   As was the case in previous novels, when Sid Haley is pushed, he pushes back even harder.  Threaten his wife and his child and there’s simply no stopping him.

In my opinion, Refusal is, by far, Felix Francis’s strongest effort  to date.  At times, I felt like he should have titled that book Dick Francis’s Return because it seemed like the old master was at it once again.  I’m happy to say that I very much look forward to reading Felix Francis’s next book.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog, in which I share samples of my work, publish some original short fiction, discuss the trials and tribulations of trying to make it as a new novelist, and from September to February, talk lots and lots of football.  Visit, or find me on Facebook, and on Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A SHOT AT REDEMPTION, my debut mystery novel.   

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