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Even Money Hardcover – August 25, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third collaboration between bestseller Francis and son Felix (after Silks), a taut crime thriller, features an especially sympathetic hero. Bookmaker Ed Talbot is struggling with his wife's mental illness, even as technology threatens to give the big bookmaking outfits an insurmountable advantage over his small family business. Soon after a man shows up at Ascot and identifies himself as Ed's father, Peter, whom Ed believed long dead, a thug demanding money stabs Peter to death. Ed is in for even more shocks when he learns his father was the prime suspect in his mother's murder—and that Peter's killing, rather than a random act of violence, may be linked to a mysterious electronic device used in some horse-racing fraud. Ed must juggle his amateur investigations into past and present crimes with his demanding family responsibilities. Though some readers may find the ending overly pat, the authors make bookmaking intelligible while easily integrating it into the plot. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Dick Francis (pictured with his son Felix Francis) was born in South Wales in 1920. He was a young rider of distinction winning awards and trophies at horse shows throughout the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot, flying fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster.

He became one of the most successful postwar steeplechase jockeys, winning more than 350 races and riding for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. After his retirement from the saddle in 1957, he published an autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write more than forty acclaimed books, including the New York Times bestsellers Even Money and Silks.

A three-time Edgar Award winner, he also received the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Cartier Diamond Dagger, was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2000. He died in February 2010, at age eighty-nine, and remains among the greatest thriller writers of all time.

Felix Francis (pictured with his father, Dick Francis), a graduate of London University, spent seventeen years teaching A-level physics before taking on an active role in his father’s career. He has assisted with the research of many of the Dick Francis novels, including Shattered, Under Orders, and Twice Shy, which drew on Felix’s experiences as a physics teacher and as an international marksman. He is coauthor with his father of the New York Times bestsellers Dead Heat, Silks, and Even Money. He lives in England.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155918
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, I really need to stop regarding any further offerings from these co-authors as primarily Dick Francis novels. I haven't felt that vintage Francis touch since 1996's TO THE HILT, although UNDER ORDERS, his 2006 thriller and the first written since the passing of his dear wife Mary, did hearken to much of what made him such an engrossing read. But I'm guessing that it's actually his son and co-author Felix who's now doing the heavy lifting. And it's just not the same.

Bookies, apparently, rank so low in the vocational totem pole and are so universally despised that probably even lawyers poke fun at them. 37-year-old Ned Talbot is an independent bookmaker eking out a living in the sport of kings. In the vein of Francis's prototypical protagonists, Ned is unassuming, is self-restrained, is a bit remote. He's a decent bloke even if he's a bookie. And, as per norm to Francis's leading men, it takes sinister external forces to draw him out of his reserved shell.

The plot rapidly thickens. In the opening pages Ned Talbot's father, long believed to be deceased, shows up at the Royal Ascot races to confound Ned. Three hours later, a mugging and a stabbing later, Ned Talbot's father dies again, this time in real. For Ned, this is only the start of shady shenanigans. With his dying breath, his father had warned him: "Be very careful... of everyone." As he delves into the mystery of his father, Ned finds himself steeped in trouble, bewildered by enigmatic electronic devices he unearths and by an inexplicable rash of Internet and cell phone breakdowns at the races. Throw in, too, a rucksack full of money, and frightening characters who begin to shadow Ned.

It can't help but seep into his family life, and Ned's family life is more devastating than others'.
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Format: Hardcover
The odds are that mystery and suspense fans will love the latest installment from the word processor of Dick Francis and son. The mellowing influence of Felix Francis is to create sympathetic heroes who are less "take it on the chin and keep going" stoic types than ordinary good and decent men caught up in situations of violence. Ned Talbot is a racetrack bookie only because he grew up assisting his grandfather, the Talbot of "Trust Teddy Talbot".

Ned's an extremely likable guy, who sticks to his wife despite her chronic mental illness and worries that his capable, computer-savvy assistant will leave for a larger firm. The big off-track betting chains are putting pressure on his profits and he sometimes wonders if his unpopular profession is worth it.

Ned grew up believing that his parents were killed in a car crash, so when a man approaches him at the Ascot races, claiming to be his father, Ned does not believe it at first. But the stranger helps him haul all his equipment off the track and as the two of them are walking across the parking lot, an assailant leaps out of nowhere and knocks Ned down.

Ned was starting to believe the man really is his father Peter Talbot, so he is horrified when the assailant stabs his father and disappears. Is this a robbery gone wrong or something to do with his father's mysterious past?

Old-time fans of Francis will recognize the electrifying sound of the starting bell, as another Francis racetrack tale of skulduggery and mayhem is off and running. Ordinary guy Ned Talbot will be an odds-on favorite but the reader will be the real winner.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the worst Dick Francis/Felix Francis book I have read. I have read every Dick Francis book written and have read all of the Dick/Felix ones as well.(None are as good as the old books although I liked Silks.) This book was disjointed, and really was bad. Usually I admire the heros in Francis books. I like them. This guy was not a hero in any sense. The main character lied - a lot. What did the girl in the black and white outfit have to do with anything? Someone wrote this one fast - too fast - and the plot was incoherent. I threw it across the room when I was done. A total waste of my time! The last time I will try to read Francis. But I did love the old books very much.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been a Dick Francis fan since I was a teenager. I enjoyed this, but it was a little more cynical and tired than other Francis novels. No spark. Compared to Decider and To the Hilt, this is a mediocre effort.
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By Cynthia on December 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
On the whole a fairly good book, but not like the Dick Francis I know , I devoured every one of his books when he wrote by himself, but he & his son together, lack his fire, not enough horses involved, not the characters he alone created hardly a jockey in sight, or a stable or trainer. Racing is now on the fringes not the main event like it used to be. Oh well, guess nothing stays the same does it
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Just when I thought Dick Francis couldn't find another tale to tell about Britain's many faceted horse business, he comes up with a great story about race track bookies. Race track betting in Great Britain is very different from that in the US. Track bets are placed with independent, legally licensed bookies who individually set the odds and maintain a complex system of accepting bets and protecting their bottom line.

Ned Talbot owns the bookie business started by his grandfather, but he's lost his love of the business and the sport. The big bookie parlors in the cities are hurting his bottom line; computers have changed the way he does business. Now his wife is in a mental hospital for another round of treatments, his computer-savvy assistant wants a piece of the business and his father, whom he thought was dead, has just showed up at the track. Within hours, his father is murdered in front of Ned, and Ned is plunged into a nerve-wracking series of events as he tries to understand his past, protect his business and his family, and find out about the items his father left behind.

This is a story of stolen identities (both humans and horses), real and imagined truths and the complex relationships in the horse racing world. It is fast paced and riveting (I lost a night's sleep). You may find the intricacies of Britain's book making business somewhat tiring, but the complexity makes for an intriguing plot. Enjoy!
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