Title: 10 lb Penalty
Author: Dick Francis
Release Date: September 22, 1997
Source: personal copy
A wanna-be jockey accepts a job in his father’s campaign for Parliament—and realizes that politics can be the most perilous horse race of all.
Dick Francis mysteries have a quality to them that’s difficult to explain. There’s nothing jarring about them, even when something surprising happens. They’re generally all business, with no pesky romantic subplots to detract from what’s going on. And they always have something to do with horse racing, even tangentially.
In this case, the tie to horse racing is Ben, who would like nothing more than to be a professional jockey. Unfortunately, he’s just a little too large for the professional world, and lacks the support to truly thrive in the amateur one. Instead, he is “convinced” to go to work for his father, a man he’s never really connected with in his childhood.
When I picked up this book, I expected the campaign to span the length of it. But the election happens about halfway through, and then we sort of meander through the next few years of Ben’s life. At that point, the story felt a bit aimless to me. We do get a resolution at the end that ties everything back in, but the urgency was gone. Thankfully, Francis gives us characters that we like to read about, so I didn’t mind the meandering so much.
This probably isn’t the strongest Dick Francis novel, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
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- “I really enjoyed the character study throughout and was impressed with the author’s ability to weave a mystery where no mystery is really involved.” — snickerpants