Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dead Heat-Dick Francis and Felix Francis

Dead Heat
Dick Frances and Felix Francis
Putnam, Sept 2007, $25.95, 352 pp.
ISBN: 9780399154768

Business is booming at the Newmarket restaurant in Newmarket, England; and the proprietor Max Moreton is hired by the racetrack to be the guest chef of a dinner. The meal is a success but most of the people came down with a bad case of food poisoning including Max. The next day he has to drag himself out of bed to perform as the guest chef in the sponser’s box. A bomb goes off killing many and injuring even more including Max’s staff. The cause of the food poisoning is caused by undercooked kidney beans. Max knows nothing in the dinner called for kidney beans.

He believes somebody deliberately poisoned his meal so that they would have an excuse not to go to the sponsor’s gala. Two couples who were supposed to attend the sponsor’s gala never showed up; one couple is one of Max’s best customers and the other is Peter, an importer of polo ponies and his wife. While he is investigating he is almost killed when the brakes on his car go out and his house with him in it is set afire. When Max and his lover go to the states, he gets a broken arm just for asking about a certain person and showing a metal ball to the security guard. Even with his life in danger, Max refuses to give up his quest to find out who tainted the meal that left so many ill and he has a number of unexpected allies willing to back him up.

This father and son writing team changes the dynamic of a book written by Dick Frances. There is more humor in the storyline and readers get even closer to the characters because Max is an everyman the audience can identify with even with his outrageous risks to clear his name. The mystery itself is clearly set up so that through the use of misdirection, readers aren’t sure who the villains of this tale are.

Harriet Klausner

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