10 Lb. Penalty

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About 20 years ago—this is before I started keeping track of such things—I realized that I'd read a lot of Dick Francis novels haphazardly. So, probably due to some undiagnosed OCD-like mental quirk, I made a list, in chronological order, of his novels up until that point in time, and resolved to read through them, one by one. This involved a bit of re-reading, but that's OK. (I think that was the genesis of my bookpicker system.)

And now I've finished that "little" project by re-reading 10 Lb. Penalty, published in 1997. Mr. Francis went on to write seven more books, some co-authored with his son Felix, but I caught those as they came out.

10 Lb. Penalty is a goodie. It has an unusually young Francis hero, Benedict Juliard, who's only 17 when the book opens. And it opens inauspiciously for him, as he's getting fired from his dream job with a horse trainer, wrongfully accused of drug abuse.

But that turns out to be a scam orchestrated by his father, George. George is standing for Parliament in England's "Hoopwestern" district. And he wants Benedict to help out, mainly to demonstrate to the voters that he has a family.

Unsurprisingly, since it's a Dick Francis novel, there are dark doings afoot. George stepped on a few feet to grab his party's nomination, and at least two of those feet aim to do him harm. Benedict, because he's a Dick Francis hero, turns out to be invaluable in detecting and thwarting these efforts.

In addition to the usual mix of danger and action, there's a lot of subtext here about father-son relationships, and the process of growing up, realizing that you might not be able to achieve your childhood goals, figuring out how to bounce back from that to have a good life anyway. Wise and moving.

Last Modified 2018-07-03 3:51 PM EDT

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