Feel the tension ratchet up in Refusal, Felix Francis' third solo novel.
Sir Richard Stewart, chairman of the horse racing authority, wants Sid Halley to look into some suspicious race results, but Sid gave up the investigating business six years ago and he thought nothing could make him go back. He thought wrong.
The following day, Sir Richard is found dead and Sid receives a threatening call from a man with an Irish accent. The man insists that Sid Halley should investigate the alleged race-fixing and it is only when his six-year-old daughter goes missing that Sid realises that he may pay the ultimate price for his refusal.
With his life in tatters and his family in mortal danger, Sid is forced to act. Maybe he has underestimated the evilness of his foe. But has his foe underestimated the guile and determination of Sid Halley? Extreme situations demand extreme solutions and Sid is desperate to get his life back, or die trying....
©2013 Felix Francis (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd
Yet another good yarn from Felix Francis who has assumed his dad's mantle very well. My only gripe with Felix's plots is that often the endings rush in and sometimes (like this one to some extent) stretch credulity a tad. However, still a good read and looking forward to next year's offering!
"Nice to see how Sid Halley is getting along!"
If you remember Sid Halley from previous books its good to be reminded why he is such a good charecter. The narrator is the usual one and very good indeed.
"Not the best of the Francis Francise"
I'm a long-time Dick Francis fan, and have been happy with but not excited by Felix Francis' co-credited and solo outings so far. This novel is my least favorite so far. The technical writing is okay, but the story is poorly paced, and the characterisation poor.
Sid Halley returns, but without the wit or resillience that makes him such an attractive character in other books. Rather than investigating, he spends the entire plot being victimised until he finally strikes back in a not particularly clever or unexpected way. For two thirds of the book we endure him receiving threats to stop him investigating something that he had no particular interest in investigating to start with. I endured this hoping for a clever reveal about misguided friends or a deadman switch deliberately provoking him into facing down a villianous conspiracy, but the uninteresting and genre-blind thug of an opponent is exactly what he seems. I'm giving nothing away by saying that when the faceless villian finally makes an appearance, he comes as no surprise to anyone.
The story lacks the features that make Francis books so great. We have no interesting profession (Halley is now a professional investor, which plays no role in the story), no strong relationships (Halley spends the best part of a chapter looking for two dogs that had previously done nothing to earn our affection, and most of the book worried about a wife and child who have no role except as victimised extras), and no clever twists.
Long-time Francis fans will be pleased at the return of the three main characters, Sid Halley, Admiral Roland, and Chico Barnes. They all seem less alive to me than they were before though, and I would rather remember them as they were in Odds Against.
Martin Jarvis gives a fine performance as reader of this book. He gives a distinctive and believable voice to each character, and does a particularly good job with the minor parts. The six-year old girl drove me up the wall, but I think that was the way she was written, not the reading. The slower reading speed of audio books exaggerates flaws in the pacing.
If you want to give this one a try out of affection for the characters or the francise, I recommend going for the print version, just so you can skim over the slow bits. I'll certainly be treating Martin Jarvis in the "Read by" field as a positive sign for other books though.
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