`Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow.'
It's the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. 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 discrete enquiries 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 realise?
Halley's quest for answers draws him ever 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.
In his first new novel for six years, Dick Francis returns to prove once again that he is the Grand Master of thriller writing.
Dick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. The winner of over 350 races, he was champion jockey in 1953/1954 and rode for HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, most famously on Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories (Field of 13), and the biography of Lester Piggott.
During his lifetime Dick Francis received many awards, amongst them the prestigious Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the genre, and three 'best novel' Edgar Allan Poe awards from The Mystery Writers of America. In 1996 he was named by them as Grand Master for a lifetime's achievement. In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2000.
Dick Francis died in February 2010, at the age of eighty-nine, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.