Triple Crown by Felix Francis: 4 Stars
I was always a fan of the novels of the late Dick Francis and so was delighted to have the opportunity to review Triple Crown written by his son, Felix Francis. This is his 10th novel and the 3rd to feature Jeff (Jefferson) Hinckley who works as a (sometime) undercover operative for the British Horseracing Authority.
Triple Crown leads on from the previous book Front Runner which ended with Jeffs life being in a bit of a mess, and to add to his troubles his girlfriend had left him. He was ripe for change when he meets Tony Andretti, the deputy director of the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency (FACSA).
Tony suspects that one of his team is leaking information to certain horse trainers because they always seem to be prepared for the raids. Wanting to bring in an unknown face he approaches Jeff as a potential investigator. Jeff and his employers agree and he soon finds himself on a plane flying off to Kentucky for the first race in the Triple crown The Kentucky Derby, where another bust has been planned. It goes terribly wrong, someone gets killed. On race day, three horses have to be withdrawn because of an unidentified illness, which strikes everyone as being highly suspicious.
Believing that he will not learn anything of much use by simply mingling and observing, Jeff thinks that his best bet will be to go undercover. Posing as an Irish groom with ID provided by FACSA he gets a job at Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes. This proves to be a bit of a challenge as unlike the British strapper whose job description can include several roles, the Americans appear to have a strict hierarchy of stable staff, Jeff has to be careful cross any of those lines.
During all this time Jeff is learning a great deal about the differences between American and British horse racing, and also of the complications caused by State specific racing regulations. He finds it hard to accept some of these differences and also seems quite shocked by the American gun laws.
As the story progresses, the suspense excitement builds towards the big finale.
As mentioned, this is the third Jefferson Hinkley book but the first that I have read, however, I’m happy to recommend it as a standalone.
I really enjoyed listening to this story, but racing and horse lover that I am, I did feel that some passages were a tad over abundant with detailing the rules and regulations of the British and American racing worlds, this did impinge on the flow of the story. Also I’m not sure if American readers will appreciate some of the less than favourable comparisons between the American and British approaches to the management of horse racing - and other things! Hence the four stars.
Narrated by Martin Jarvis who is a well respected British actor who has several television roles to his credit. He has also won many Earphone Awards and the coveted Golden Voices gong awarded to him by the highly regarded Audio File magazine.
Martin Jarvis, as would be expected, reads beautifully and easily with his lovely golden voice. It’s not all about the voice though, the cadence, rhythm and timing are spot on. Each character, being given their own voice, is easily identifiable. Wonderful job, but … perhaps Irish accents are not quite his forte?
I found the recording to be of the highest quality, crisp, clear with not one discernible glitch.
Copy provided by Bolinda Publishing for an unbiased review.