Dick Francis has earned a well deserved reputation as one of the best suspense writers around--based more on his writing skills and character development that any real talent for suspense. This is because virtually all his books, regardless of character and milieu, follow a well developed formula. By the third or forth Francis book one has a pretty good feel for how things will proceed. His average books are well enough crafted to keep your attention, his better books--such as Banker, Reflex and Proof--grab you by the throat and won't let go till you are done.
Blood Sport is a significant departure for Francis. The formula is gone, the action aspects of his work take back seat to a much more cerebral style and the main character is far from the iconoclastic, self reliant individualist we normally expect from Francis.
Gene Hawkins is a "screener" for the British Government-essentially a "mole" hunter. He is also suicidal-his previous relationship has shattered and left the man a psychological mess. He has sublimated his troubles into his work-until now. Faced with a mandatory three week leave his boss, fearful for his employee's life-sets him onto the trail of the thieves of one of his pals thoroughbred race horses in America.
What follows is one of the more bizarre, compelling chase stories I have ever read. It is also the most unusual novel Francis has written to date.
Not all Francis fans will like this book-as the previous reviews will attest. However, I found the story very compelling and felt more of a real connection to the characters than is the norm with a Francis novel. I also found it to be more of a true suspense novel than is usually the case with Francis.
I urge Francis fans to give it a try.