Dick Francis, Second Wind
Dick Francis has published 42 thrillers until his death, aged 89 in 2010. Over the years Francis made the action-suspense-detective story extremely popular and arguably forged the widest fan base of any writer before or since. A former jockey himself, horse racing always plays some part in his books. Although he had been been a novelist for over 30 years it had been suggested that his broader scope novels of the 1990s – exploring other interesting professions – were vintage Francis. This mystery has TV meteorologist Perry Stuart getting his weather balloon caught in a storm. Dick’s friend and colleague Simon Brett provided the appreciation.
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Dick Francis published his first mystery, Dead Cert, in 1962. Since then, he has published 42 thrillers until his death, aged 89 in 2010. During his career as a crime writer made the action-suspense-detective story extremely popular and arguably forged the widest fan base of any writer before or since. Each year the new Dick Francis was almost always a guaranteed bestseller.
A former jockey himself, horse racing always plays some part in his books. He achieved success early with several books that are still read today such as For Kicks (1965), Flying Finish (1966) and Forfeit (1968). In range and power as a suspense and mystery writer Francis was probably unequalled. Not only were they good puzzle books, but they had a emotional impact. His books had a strong following internationally, and especially so in the United States were he was a Grand Master. They were often centred on modest hero-figures such as the racing correspondent James Tyrone in Forfeit who looked after his invalid wife (as Frances once did himself). Although he had been been a novelist for over 30 years it had been suggested that his broader scope of his novels in the 1990s were vintage Francis – they focused more on artistic professions – rather than on skulduggery in and around the racing circuit. This particular one with TV meteorologist Perry Stuart, however, is not regarded as being in that category.
Plotline: Dick Francis takes us on his most electrifying, death-defying ride yet in Second Wind. The catastrophic power of a giant hurricane can raise coastal waves thirty feet high and blow through houses at devastating speeds. For TV meteorologist Perry Stuart, however, such predictions are generally hypothetical, as he chiefly predicts periods of English drizzle, with bursts of heavier rain and sunshine to follow. Stuart’s profound weather knowledge and accuracy have given him high status among forecasters, but no physical baptism by storm. Not, that is, until a fellow forecaster offers him a Caribbean hurricane-chasing ride in a small airplane as a holiday diversion. But a frightening accident teaches Stuart more secrets than wind speeds . . . and back home in England he faces threats and danger as deadly as anything nature can evolve.
Second Wind is an unusual entry in the Francis canon. The reviews were mixed and perhaps less than the usual standard. This edition of 110 signed and numbered copies does however contain a bright and deserving appreciation by president of the Detection Club Simon Brett.