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.
The British author's 27th novel boasts the combination of subject matter and prose style that have made him an international bestseller: thoroughbred horses and heroes, heart palpitations, speed and comedy. Heading the large, colorful cast, narrator Torquil (Tor) Kelsey is an undercover agent for the British Jockey Club. The members have been balked in their efforts to convict wily Julius Apollo Filmer of murder and other crimes that tarnish the sport of kings. With hopes of gaining evidence against Filmer, Tor joins the rich crowd going from England to Canada for ``The Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train.'' Pretending he's a waiter, Tor keeps an eye on Filmer as the train rockets across the Northwest. There is no limit to the thrills along the way, and no way of predicting the stunning denouement. 200,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (Feb.)
Young Tor Kelsey, competent, race-horse wise, and independently wealthy, works for undercover security at the English Jockey Club. ``Loaned'' to the Canadian Jockey Club, he spies on charming but slippery British extortionist Julius Apollo Filmera horse flesh aficionadoaboard the first-ever Transcontinental Mystery Race Train. During the week-long trip, put together to promote Canadian racing, Kelsey narrowly avoids detection, single-handedly averts catastrophe, and even falls in love. This most excellent and memorable construction, crisply crafted and sparkling with intensity, evidences a deft, masterful hand. Literary Guild main selection. REK