He had a good long run, but it still hurts that one of my favorite authors has taken his last turn around the track. This, via MK, captures well how I always felt about him:
I once wrote a review of a Dick Francis thriller without reading it. I wasn’t going to waste a new Dick Francis on a bloody review when I had a transatlantic flight coming up, was I? So I wrote a piece saying that I knew the book was going to be good. I trusted it, and that’s why I was saving it for later. Three bloody Marys and a new Dick Francis and you’re in New York before you know you’ve taken off.
[Added] From a brief piece about him in the Times's "50 Greatest Crime Writers" series, assembled in 2008:
You simply have to turn the next page. It really is as simple as that. I once met him: he told me that the thing he hates most is when people tell him they loved his last books so much that they read it straight through in three hours. “Bloody hell - it took me a year to write that.”