From Publishers Weekly
After collaborating on Dead Heat
(2007), bestseller Francis and his son, Felix, deliver another gripping thriller with a thoroughbred racing backdrop. Soon after London barrister Geoffrey Mason, an amateur jockey by avocation, starts receiving a series of threatening messages from a former client, Julian Trent, whose conviction for assault was overturned on appeal, Mason reluctantly accepts the defense of a jockey, Steve Mitchell, accused of the pitch-fork murder of fellow rider Scot Barlow at a steeplechase event. Mitchell and Barlow had fallen out over Barlow's sister, a vet and Mitchell's former girlfriend, who took her own life just a short while before. When unknown parties order Mason to lose the case, he must balance his professional ethics and his sense of self-preservation. The solid writing and engaging lead will carry readers along at a brisk pace, though some may find the dramatic courtroom revelation of the murderer overly theatrical. (Sept.)
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The title to Francis’ second entry on the racetrack suspense circuit since his return from a long absence is shorthand for his new hero’s status as a British barrister and an amateur steeplechase rider (Francis fans will remember that the author was a champion professional steeplechase rider before too many collarbone breaks). The title also gives some insight into the hero’s frustrations: as a junior arguing for the defense (think Rumpole), he may never wear the silk of a leader. Also, his true passion, riding, is getting away from him as he gets older and heavier. The novel offers a stunning mix of thundering racetrack action, back-of-the-stables betrayal, criminal investigation, and Old Bailey courtroom drama, all brought together by hero Geoffrey Mason. Suspense breathes on just about every page. Mason is brought into a case involving the murder of a top jump jockey whom he knew, killed with a pitchfork, and a thug whom he put away for numerous assaults and attempted murder is back out—and out to get Mason and those he loves. Despite being coauthored by Francis’ son, Felix, Silks reads like early Francis (Nerve or Dead Cert, for example) in its tautness and concentration on racing. Even background on equine ailments and the British judicial system somehow adds to the novel’s momentum. Francis is, again, far in the lead. --Connie Fletcher