Crisis by Felix Francis

Crisis by Felix Francis
Publisher: Simon & Shuster UK
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Harrison Foster, a crisis manager for a London firm, is summoned to Newmarket after a fire in the Chadwick Stables kills six very valuable horses, including the short-priced favorite for the Derby. There is far more to the “simple” fire than initially meets the eye…for a start, human remains are found among the equestrian ones in the burnt-out shell. All the stable staff are accounted for, so who is the mystery victim?

Harry knows very little about horses, indeed he positively dislikes them, but he is thrust unwillingly into the world of thoroughbred racing, where the standard of care of the equine stars is far higher than that of the humans who attend to them.

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Harry represents the Middle Eastern owner of the Derby favourite and, as he delves deeper into the unanswered questions surrounding the horse’s demise, he ignites a fuse that blows the volcano sky-high. Can Harry solve the riddle before he is bumped off by the fallout?

Harrison Foster knows practically nothing about horseracing, but as a Crisis Manager, when he’s sent to oversee the burning of a stables and the subsequent death of a half dozen horses he realizes that the racing world isn’t as simple as he expected. When the case turns into a murder inquiry Harry realizes he needs to keep ahead of the pack or things might spiral out of control.

I’ve been a fan of Dick Francis’ books since my teenage years and while at first I was dubious when his son, Felix, clearly was going to take over I’m really pleased to say for the most part I find Felix Francis’ books as enjoyable as I always have found Dick’s. I think this is helped in large part by the fact these books aren’t a series. They are almost all British mysteries, and all in some way revolve around the world of horse racing – but as a person who knows very little (and cares even less) about either horses or races I still almost always find these books enjoyable.

I really enjoyed how there were quite a number of main characters thoroughly and consistently portrayed throughout the story (around a dozen or so) and I was pleased that – as usual – they were all complicated and interesting. The various webs surrounding different sections of the main family was engrossing to me and I really enjoyed the slow but steady reveals as Harry dug more into the different elements and pieced things together. I’m also not usually a fan of legal stories – but while Harry is a lawyer he’s not the usual “showing up to court” type of lawyer. Indeed, his work usually boils down to making judgment calls, giving advice and trying to sort out exactly what’s going on in tumultuous situations, so seeing him off-kilter in the racing world and trying to solve a murder was extraordinarily fun.

Readers who enjoy a strong mystery with numerous complicated characters should find this an excellent book. Despite there being dozens of stories by Dick and Felix Francis for the most part they are all individual books and so it’s never a hassle picking any of them up to read as they’re not linked in any way. I’ve been auto-buying the Francis books for years and this was yet another winner I am really pleased with.

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