Title: 10 LB. Penalty
Author: Francis, Dick
Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd., London
Publication Date: 1997
Edition: SIGNED First Edition
Book Condition: F
D-j Condition: F
Synopsis: At 18, easy-going Benedict Juliard and his father enter into a pact that neither of them will commit any act that could destroy the father’s career. Ten years later he is targeted in a vicious attack mounted by his father’s increasingly violent political enemies.
Review: One of the most impressive aspects of Dick Francis’s long and celebrated career (he’s won three Edgar Awards, the Silver Dagger, the Gold Dagger, a Cartier Diamond Dagger, and was named the 1996 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master) is the freshness that he brings to each of his novels. In 10 lb. Penalty Francis adds several new arrows to his quiver. His protagonist, Ben Juliard, narrates the tale in a vivid first person that begins in his insecure late teens instead of the settled middle age of the usual Francis hero. Also, Ben’s relationship with horses is more of a fading dream than an active reality. The book begins with Ben’s expulsion from Vivian Durridge’s stables; he’s removed with a false accusation of glue sniffing. But as Ben soon discovers, it is, in fact, his powerful father’s machinations that are behind his ill fortunes. The elder Juliard is “standing for Parliament,” and the bachelor candidate needs his son by his side for a year of campaigning if he hopes to win. Ben accedes to his father’s wishes. He almost always has, but he soon finds that his “gap year”–his year before entering university–is going to be a nightmare. Orinda Nagle, the widow of the recently deceased Hoopwestern MP, and her companion, Alderney Wyvern, resist George’s campaign from the start. Then, Usher Rudd, a scandal-mongering journalist, turns his vitriol to George. When an attempt is made on George’s life, he and his son find themselves inside a vigorous tale of suspense that takes several narrative years to sort out.