It's the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. Last seen in 1995's Come to Grief, former champion jockey Halley knows the perils of racing all too well but, in his day, jockeys didn't usually reach the finishing line with three .38 rounds in the chest. But this is precisely how he finds jockey Huw Walker who, only a few hours earlier, had won the coveted Triumph Hurdle.
Just moments before the gruesome discovery, Halley had been called upon by Lord Enstone to make discreet inquiries into why his horses appeared to be on a permanent losing streak. Are races being fixed? Are bookies taking a cut? And if so, are trainers and jockeys playing a dangerous game with stakes far higher than they realize?
Halley's quest for answers draws him even deeper into the darker side of the race game, in a life-or-death power play that will push him to his very limits, both professionally and personally.
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©2006 Dick Francis; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Books on Tape
"Dick Francis is a genius." (Los Angeles Times)
"The writing and action are as crisp as ever." (Publishers Weekly)
Under Orders is the fourth book in Dick Francis’ series featuring one of his most popular detectives, ex-jockey Sid Halley, who turned to investigation after an accident (and a villain) left him without one of his hands. Previous stories in the series are Odds Against, where Sid adjusts to the loss of his marriage and his career as a jockey while working for an investigative firm, followed by Whip Hand, where he strikes out on his own as a detective with trusty sidekick Chico Barnes, and Come To Grief, where his relationship with the “Cassandra Committee” begins. Each book presents an not only an interesting puzzle, with illuminating insights into the world of British horse racing, but also lets you see how Sid grows and changes with his life experiences and with modern developments.
Under Orders shows us an older, more settled Sid Halley who, at 38, has finally found his new love, the humorous Dutch scientist Marina. The interplay between the two enlivens an interesting story that involves race fixing, internet gambling, and murder. The plot presented many surprises with Francis’ usual twists and turns, including the identity of the villain. In other areas it was predictable, leaving you wanting to tap Sid on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you are overlooking this!”
Although Tony Britton is my favorite Dick Francis reader, Martin Jarvis did a wonderful job and did not detract from my enjoyment of the story in any way. His reading is slightly more boisterous than Tony Britton’s but he does very well with town and country British accents from various classes.
All in all, this was a good story and an absolutely essential listen for Dick Francis enthusiasts. Fans of Sid Halley will be delighted to be reunited with his most popular detective.
If you like one Dick Francis mystery, you will probably like them all (if you get a good reader - which is usually the case fortunately). He wrote four mysteries featuring ex-jockey Sid Halley: Odds Against (1965); Whip Hand (1979); Come to Grief (1995); and Under Orders (2006). Even though the books span 40 years, the elapsed time within/between all the stories is about 3 or 4 years. Technology advances with the times from book to book and we aren't supposed to notice that as readers. After all, it's really the mysteries and Francis' quality writing that we're here for, isn't it? Of the four, I felt this was the weakest - but still worth it to complete the set. I'm not a big Martin Jarvis fan and this was also the first book Francis published after a long absence from publishing due to the death of his wife.
I tend to get into grooves where everything I read is historical romance, mystery, light romantic comedy, thrillers, or whatever. I used to read (in print) 2 or 3 books at the same time, switching one to the other, depending on mood. But there are medications for that now, LOL.
I enjoyed this story very much and I think the performance was excellent. The accents were great (though I have always wondered why neither of the narrators who worked the Sid Halley novels didn't give him a Liverpool accent, since that's where he was born & raised. Shouldn't he have sounded more like John Lennon in the early days?) Back to the story and why I enjoyed it. Sid Halley is my favorite Dick Francis protagonist. I've read the other books as well, and the personality is consistent. The thing that is most different about this one, aside from the technological advances, is that it isn't as violent as the others. The story is more mind-games than go-beat-'em-up action. I know many won't appreciate that, but it's nice that there was only one martyred Sid episode in this one. No, it isn't edge of the seat, but it's a nice read anyway. Kept me going while I was doing other, mindless things.
Over a period of 35 years, I have read and/or listened to every Dick Francis book written so was excited to find that a new one was about to be published. This one is "ok" but there is something about the book that does not feel genuine. A new reader may have contributed partly to this feeling, but it is more than that. Maybe Dick Francis is just getting old - or maybe I am.
Absolutely! Riveting, cannot put it down?
The plot and tenacity and just brilliant writing
All of it!
Portions made me chuckle with the cleverness
Beautifully narrated! Martin Jarvis keeps you riveted!
This book was every bit as good as all the other Francis books I've read and loved more times than I can count. I enjoyed the narration and was very pleased by the reappearance of Sid Halley. I love Dick's books and read them over and over. I'll listen to this one again and again.
I've been hooked on Dick Francis books since I was in high school (a long time ago!). I originally read this one some years ago, after reading Come to Grief (same main character) and thought it would be worth a listen. It definitely was. Martin Jarvis is a good narrator - well-paced and engaging. If you're looking for something entertaining with an interesting story line, this will fit the bill.
Another of the Sid Halley novels by Francis. This time Sid falling love to a woman with brains and courage to match him, but fortunately Francis doesn't let a romance interfer with a great mystery. His villians are just as evil as ever and the plot is well constructed. This time he shows us the world of genetic science in addition to the seamy side of British horse racing.
Easy listening. Not too many characters to keep track of. Surprise ending. Plot was good. Would try another one by this author.
This one seemed to drag too much in the middle of the book. The plot seemed to loose its way, and I almost gave up on it. But came back at the end.
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