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SECOND WIND Hardcover – October 4, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dick Francis's legion of admirers can relax: his year off from writing since the 1998 publication of Field of Thirteen is over, and a new vigor has entered his style. Longtime readers will be happy to find the customary racetrack skullduggery, galvanized by some fascinating new elements.

The very opening of Second Wind signals something new, with Francis's protagonist, meteorologist Perry Stuart, fighting for his life as he flies through the eye of storm on Trox Island, a blighted place steeped in guano and harboring a nasty secret. "But now, as near dead as dammit, I tumbled like a rag-doll piece of flotsam in towering gale-driven seas that sucked unimaginable tons of water from the deeps ...."

When the reader encountered details of the racing world in Francis's earlier thrillers such as Whip Hand and Reflex, they had the satisfying ring of authenticity. The same is true in Second Wind--Stuart's character was developed with the help of BBC weatherman John Kettley.

Although this is a new venue for Francis, he still has a knack for quickening the reader's pulse with a few carefully chosen words: "Despair was too strong a word for it. Perhaps despondency was better. When they came for me, they came with guns." --Barry Forshaw

From Publishers Weekly

With his 40th novel in as many years, grand master Dick Francis isn't up to his usual high standards, but fans know that even a subpar Francis is in the 95th percentile. Here the typical Francis hero is a young Englishman of a vanishing breed: smart, self-effacing although very good at his job, polite and thoroughly decent. Perry Stuart is a well-known TV weatherman for the BBC who was orphaned as a child and raised by his beloved, now crippled grandmother, who remains tartly sensible ("If you can't fix it, think about something else"). Joining fellow BBC weatherman Kris Ironside on a flying jaunt into the eye of a Caribbean hurricane, Perry survives when the plane crashes and washes up on a tiny, apparently abandoned island where the houses were destroyed by the hurricane. In a hut, he stumbles across a safe containing a mysterious file folder whose contents he cannot decipher. After a crew wearing radiation-protection suits arrive by air to rescue him, Perry's troubles are only beginning, as he slowly becomes aware of a sinister scheme in which well-off people are brokering enriched uranium to foreign nogoodniks. Among the cast are mushroom mogul Robin Darcy and his flashy American wife, two old SIS spooksAthink an aging James Bond and a tottery MAand a beautiful nurse who is Perry's circumspect love interest. Perry continues to encounter danger: the sabotage of another plane he's on, threats by a muscle-bound thug in Grand Cayman. Francis's writing is smooth and intelligent, moving the reader right along, but the end of the book is more than a tad far-fetched. Still, ex-RAF pilot and champion steeplechaser Francis knows his stuffAand of course race courses figure in the plot. BOMC main selection; Audio Books main selection; 3-city author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399145621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399145629
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,556,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dick Francis was the author of more than forty acclaimed books. Among his numerous awards were three Edgar Awards, the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger, and the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. He died in February 2010.

Felix Francis has assisted with the research of many of the Dick Francis novels and is the coauthor of Dead Heat, Silks, and Even Money. He lives in England.

Customer Reviews

By itself the story isn't bad, it's just not what you expect from him.
Mark S. Winger
The plot made not sense, and I did not care one bit about his characters.
Fr William Thompson
The book was quick reading, and enjoyable, as the characters are real.
Steven Walfish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James C. Coomer on November 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Second Choice is one of the few time Francis disppoints. When he moves away from horses, he moves aways from the environment he knows best which forces him to focus on the technical information that he has learned which he wants to us as a background for his new novel. In Second Wind, he has studied hurricanes. He tries to create a story in which he can use his new found knowledge. We learn a lot about hurricanes, flying into hurricanes, and tracking hurricanes, but the story he attempts to create with hurricanes as a backdrop never seems creditable. These aren't the usual believable Francis characters, nor a tightly woven plot. The background became the foreground. Even the ending seems forced; i.e., how do I bring this thing to a conclusion.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have to agree with most of the others. Did Dick Francis actually write this book? If so, what happened? I kept reading in hopes that the uninteresting, convoluted plot would get better if I just gave it a few more pages. It never did. Don't waste your time with this one. Go get one of your old Dick Francis favorites and re-read it instead.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a die hard Dick Francis fan - I have reread most of his books several times. This one I won't. It's disjointed and extremely slow to get to the plot ( which is so convoluted that even at the end it didn't make sense). I had to force myself to finish it in the hopes that it would get better, it didn't. There was very little character developement, far too many of the pages were taken up by descriptions rather than plot enhancement or better yet - plot explanation. It reminded me of the later Louis L'Amour books that were pages and pages of the same thought (who am I, why am I here, etc.) I really hope that Mr. Francis goes back to the good basic story and characters that have won him so many fans.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Fr William Thompson on October 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid Francis fan. He, along with Clancy and Hillerman, are the only authors whose books I will buy as soon as they hit the shelves. He writes interesting stories, wonderfully developed characters, and makes you care about the people in his books. His evil twin must have written this book. I was so disappointed. The plot made not sense, and I did not care one bit about his characters. There was even a point where I hoped the two protagonists would die in the hurricane and put me out of my misery. One other note, as a private pilot I know that no sane pilot would do nor be allowed to do what the pilot in the story did. It would have been suicide in a light plane. Here is hoping that the real Dick Francis returns.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laura Q. Savage on November 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Second Wind is vintage Dick Francis if you are interested in character study and human frailty. This is not Sid Halley material. He only pays passing homage to the racing industry. However, he tackles the issue of an innocent meteorologist sucked into an international intrigue due to a desire to fly through a hurricane. The villains are not so much evil to the core, but opportunists, who are inept. The plot is full of convolutions and requires some thought, but is fully satisfying in the end. As for the romance, isn't it nice to find a couple that don't reveal all their bedroom secrets on the page?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark S. Winger on May 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is certainly not indicative of Francis's style or the caliber of his books. I read several reviews that say that Francis has lost it, and I would say that is far too harsh. Prior to this book, nearly all of his novels centered more around horse racing than this one does here. That is not to say that the books are racing books themselves, but it plays a key role in the backdrop of the story. Furthermore, Francis normally gives a character we can relate to put in extenuating circumstances and we feel more of a connection with the story. In this book, Francis has strayed significantly from the norm. "Second Wind" plays more like a espionage novel rather than a mystery. The book in of itself really isn't that bad, but it definitely falls short of what Francis is capable of and doesn't capture his strength as a writer. So what can you take from this. If you have already read the book and hated it, don't give up, Francis is an excellent story teller. If you loved it, then you should really like what else he has to offer. For those of you considering this book, I offer the following opinion. a. If you are new to Dick Francis read "Whip Hand", "The Danger", "In the Frame", or "Bloodsport". You will appreciate him as a writer more. b. If you are a big Francis fan, be prepared -- this story is definitely different and you shouldn't expect the same type of tale you normally get. By itself the story isn't bad, it's just not what you expect from him.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The unconvincing plot, shallow characterizations and inaccurate editing would have been embarrassing for an amateur. I am left wondering if the real plot is to discover who wrote this. It can't be the same Dick Francis I have enjoyed year after year.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Yuri on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have all Mr Francis' production on my shelves, and each one of his books has been for me continuous reading to its end. This happened with this new novel, too, but this time it was just out of deference for past merits. Mr Francis has apparently come short of ideas for the plots of his books, and has made in this one a partial change of scenario: meteorology, hurricanes, shady deals on the market of fixionable material. His classical grounds (the turf, National Hunt, steeplechasing, point-to-point, etc.), where he used to couple an undoubtable ability to write with an intimate knowledge of that world, are marginal here. And the spinning of the story, the writer's way of telling it, is somewhat circumvoluted. Regrettable: I preferred the old form. Nevertheless, it is for sure I will keep snapping up any of Mr Francis's books to come (and I do hope they will keep coming) as soon as I find them in the bookstore.
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