Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis Dead at 89

Dick Francis

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.

(pic. source)

[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.”


TC said...

I managed to slog through a couple of his novels, but found them to be instantly forgettable (why is there a double "t" in forgetable?) In matters of taste there is no disputing, but I'm curious about what you find exemplary in them.

bjkeefe said...

I don't know what I could add to the blockquotes I already offered, but maybe to restate: I find them enormously compelling. The yarns are at least entertaining and often exciting, the characters are likable, especially the main ones, and the battle of the stoic and righteous versus evil is pure comfort food.

Another attraction, not mentioned by either of the articles to which I linked, is that in almost every one of his novels, in addition to all of the fascinating horse-related details, he also introduced some new interest; e.g., photography, the manufacture of hard liquor, an early PDA, how commercial banking works, etc. That aspect is something my sisters and I always excitedly talked about, and it (among other things) kept us very far from having the sense that the books were "all alike."

The affection may well stem from the age at which I started reading them -- tween and early teen years. I suppose had I waited until later to pick them up, they might not have done as much for me.