Francis, Felix - 'Refusal'
Sid Halley is a former jockey who used to utilise his expertise and knowledge as a private investigator but who now earns his living as independent financial investor. He is approached by the Chairman of the Racing Authority, Sir Richard Stewart, to investigate some racing results. Sir Richard considers the results suspicious but everyone else thinks his suspicions are unfounded and he wants Sid to help him find some hard evidence. However, Sid left the investigations business because of the dangers involved to him and his family and now considers his wife Marina and his daughter Saskia his priority and has no desire to go back even to please his old friend.
Sir Richard is very disappointed but determined to investigate his concerns himself. The next day Sid learns that he has been found dead - a suspected suicide. He is surprised knowing the character of Sir Richard but then he is approached by a mysterious voice on the telephone telling him that he will investigate - and write a report to the effect that Sir Richard was mistaken or else. Sid refuses and ignores subsequent phone calls, but when Saskia disappears from school, he realises that the people who are trying to involve him cannot be ignored. He also fears that his beloved sport is in danger of losing the essential trust of the racing public and that the conspiracy to fix races spreads wider than Sir Richard was aware. He does what is asked of him but he cannot help asking questions and the threats just start to increase in level until he has to try to take control, identify how far the conspiracy spreads and who is pulling all the strings.
REFUSAL is a pacey thriller, written by the son of Dick Francis. The character, Sid Halley, has appeared in several previous novels. I am not a fan of horse racing and know nothing about the sport or the betting that surrounds it but managed to follow the necessary detail in this story quite easily and find the story enjoyable. The writer seems to have found the balance of providing sufficient knowledge about the subject without too much description slowing down the action.
Susan White, England