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This is the second book Dick Francis has co-written with his son, Felix. Dick Francis is coming up on his 88th birthday, so it's not clear how much actual writing he's doing these days. Still, it's a good read, and I am committed to buying anything that comes out with his name on it, until one or the other of us kicks the bucket.

The protagonist here is a British lawyer/amateur jockey, widower Geoffrey Mason, called "Perry" by his jockey friends. At the beginning of the book he is defending Julian Trent, a violent sociopath. Everyone knows he's guilty, including Geoffrey. And he's duly sentenced to a jail term. So good riddance, right?

Well, sorry, not right. Otherwise the book would have been very short. Trent gets out after a few months, after some jury members claim to have been improperly approached by the prosecutor.

In a seemingly unrelated thread, a despised jockey is murdered. (Method: pitchfork. Ouch.) Another jockey is almost certainly being framed for the crime; Geoffrey is roped into the defense. But Trent is (somehow) involved here too, attempting to get Geoffrey to botch the trial and get his client convicted.

The book has an unusually disturbing ending, related to the ongoing theme: throughout the book, the British legal system, from cops to judges, seems uninterested and incompetent in coping with the dedicated evil-doers threatening Geoffrey and his loved ones. How close that is to a fair and accurate picture, I don't know.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 3:56 PM EST