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Silks Hardcover – August 26, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155338
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

Pick this one up and enjoy the read.
Karen B
Francis books always created strong characters that you felt hooked in to, but the main character in this story is dull.
Mark S. Winger
And I'm hoping that Felix Francis will keep writing mysteries on his own.
Patto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Linda Holman VINE VOICE on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very excited when I found that this book was coming out. Since Dick Francis seemed to have stopped writing for a time, before the release of his last book written with his son, Dead Heat, I made sure that this was not a reprint.

I also made sure that I had plenty of free time, because once I pick up one of his books, I can't put it down! This one did not disappoint me.

As with his other books, the setting takes place in London and little towns nearby that feature racetracks. This story centers around the English legal system, which is fascinating to me. It has the usual main character who is a nice bloke (Geoffrey Mason) but has had some bad things happen to him. He also finds a new love interest, and fights the good fight against the evil bad guy, and good wins out in the end.

When I read this book, I felt like I was there, in the little town that was described, and that I could feel the feelings that the characters were feeling.

Even though this book stuck to Dick Francis' typical plot, it felt fresh and entertaining to me. I was actually smiling at the end, and it takes a good book to do that for me.

If you are a Dick Francis fan, I would definitely purchase this book. And, I am very happy to report that Mr. Francis' son, Felix, seems to be fully capable of having the reigns turned over to him when it becomes necessary.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A. Turner VINE VOICE on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
_Silks_ is a mid-range Dick Francis novel. It delivers the usual pleasures of Dick Francis novels: a racing background, a sympathetic protagonist, a scary villain, a little romance, and an interesting backdrop. As a long-time Francis fan, I was glad to get it and enjoyed reading it. Much as I'd like to, however, I can't give it more than three stars. It has an excellent start, and a good finish, but it lags in the middle.

It doesn't take long for Geoffrey Mason, our hero, to get into frighteningly credible hot water. That's good--but then he takes an awfully long time to do anything effective about it. The middle part of the book fails to build on itself. In a thriller/mystery tale like this one, the protagonist should always be getting more information, getting closer to the bad guys, using what he's learned to push one step further. The antagonist, meanwhile, should always be expanding the scope of his nefarious doings, upping the threat level, reacting to the hero.

Neither of those things happens very much in _Silks_. Mason goes down a lot of blind alleys, and fails to uncover many new facts during his rather desultory investigations. Ultimately, he gets the information he needs via a phone call from a third party. The villain, in turn, simply repeats his original threats over and over. (Part of the trouble is that the villain, when uncovered, turns out to be a somewhat peripheral character.)

Finally, because there's no chain of revelations, Francis & Francis have to rely on a gimmick to inject surprise. In a typical mystery, we readers know what the investigator has *seen*, but not what he *thinks*. Here, Mason explains everything to the other characters in the book--but not to us.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this book Dick Francis returns to his roots and to a type of hero who was featured in many of his early mysteries: the amateur jockey. Geoffrey Mason is a barrister who someday hopes to attain the silken robes of a Queen's Counsel. In the meantime, he represents thugs like Julian Trent and rides in races a few times a year on his own horse. Things take a dismaying turn when Trent gets out on appeal because someone tampered with a jury.

The racing scenes have all the pulse pounding appeal of vintage Francis. The intricacies of British law are clearly portrayed. Even the graphic violence is not new to Dick Francis mysteries. Actually there is less violence then some classic Francis mysteries such as BONE CRACK, but in this book they seem more shocking, partly because his hero seems "softer" than some of the tough guys of yore. As in the previous book co-authored by Dick Frances and his son Felix DEAD HEAT, the hero is not a jock who takes his licks and keeps on kicking. Geoffrey Mason is easily moved to tears since the death of his wife and at first, he seems intimidated by the violence that is meant to move him along a certain course. He grows as a character throughout the novel until he becomes capable of taking the climatic action in the final pages. Riveting! Remarkable! Perhaps not recommended for the cozy, tea-drinking set...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Holly on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you're not a fan of Dick Francis, then you really want to start with Straight (Dick Francis Library) or Reflex (Berkley Fiction), two of his very best. If you are a fan, this will will be another pleasant day out at the track, good weather, fine horses, and you'll win a few modest wagers on the Tote, but there won't be any stunning upsets.

This time, our protagonist (in Francis' trademark first person POV) is a barrister, a lawyer who argues cases in the British courts. We get interesting insights into his profession, and a very believable young thug as the First Villain of the piece.

The story proper starts with a murder (very traditional) and quickly spawns a complex web of witnesses, entangled lives and a great honkin' Clue. It is here that the story is weakest, as it bogs down a bit in the middle- there needed to be a bit more going on. We take a lengthy excursion into the character's personal life while not making progress on the mystery and waiting for something to happen in the rest of the plot.

However, after some slowness in the middle, it launches into a bang-up courtroom finish, with revelations and confrontations galore. This is considerably more polished and better paced than the first Francis and Francis outing, and if it's not first-rank, it's certainly enjoyable and recognizably part of Francis' greater body of work.
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