British novelist and jockey Dick Francis dies on Valentine's Day
Francis has been one of my favorite horse/mystery authors since I first picked up one of his books many years ago. A precocious reader at an early age, I devoured books at a steady pace, zipping through whatever happened to catch my eye on the bookshelves (the insulation, as my father sometimes referred to them) lining the walls of our house.
Francis books offered multiple points of goodness: first of course, they're horse-related. They describe exotic locations like Newmarket and various racecourses around England (I grew up in the UP of Michigan... many places were pretty exotic - lol). Well-stocked with main characters of strong, if sometimes slightly bent, moral compasses and great determination, they're also interesting, easily portable (at least in paperback), and highly entertaining. Best of all, they were something my mother deemed appropriate reading material and I didn't have to hide them - not that I'd ever have dreamed of doing that with anything I read, Mom (grin) - except maybe late at night when I wanted to read just one more chapter after lights-out.
As an adult I've continued to enjoy Francis books, even reviewing his latest here, although I'm a bit more fond of some of his earlier efforts. Bonecrack, Nerve, Flying Finish and so many more kept me company on numerous bus trips and family vacations. I even found a few Francis novels, welcome old friends, on the shelves in the Norwegian library I frequented when I spent a summer working overseas.
Along with several others, Robert B. Parker (the Spencer for Hire series), J. D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), Erich Segal (Love Story) have all passed this year, Francis will be greatly missed.