Jun 28


Posted by Soliloquy in Braille

After becoming involved with the Stratton Park racecourse, Lee Morris, a young architect, engineer, and builder, finds himself reluctantly drawn into the deadly infighting among members of the clan that owns the facility. Large first printing. Major ad/promo…. More >>


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5 Responses

  • Following closely to his usual formula (likeable, 30ish hero facing dangers undreamed of in his prior life but facing them with courage and humor), Francis has crafted another extremely readable suspense novel. This time, his hero is an architect who specializes in restored crumbling buildings, who also happens to have 6 sons who tag along with him through many of his adventures.

    When our hero is forced to become involved in the affairs of a racecourse that he owns 8% of, and thus is ensnared in the VERY unpleasant lives of the Stratton family, who own most of the rest of the course, he finds himself in repeated mortal danger.

    The book is a bit more “cinematic” than most, with big explosions and some fires, rather than Francis’ usual knock on the back of the head into unconsciousness. The book has further charm because this hero is the parent of young children, something Francis has seldom offered us before, and never in such generous quantities. As always, his character is well-versed in his chosen profession, showing that Francis has done his homework well.

    The plot is a humdinger, but I find that the Stratton family is SO full of truly VILE people that they become too 1 dimensional, like villains in an old-fashioned melodrama. Their actions are often so violent and hate-riddled that they are a bit difficult to believe.

    But that being said, this is another fine, quick, enjoyable read in the amazingly large and outstanding body of work produced by Dick Francis. I recommend it to fans and newbies alike!

  • Dick Francis has a winning formula: he writes books about a young man of around 30, in a career most people might think is boring, but which turns out to be exciting. His hero is usually taken for granted and under-appreciated by his family, and under-employed, but in the course of the book proves he is far smarter, cleverer, and more observant than anyone supposed. Usually, there’s a highly intelligent middle-aged career woman who recognizes his worth and helps him along. It’s a formula, but the details that Francis provides makes it work every time.

    In this book, our hero is an architect and builder. We find him almost finished with his latest restoration project – he and his family move into a place, restore it, sell it, and move on. This time, however, the family wants to stay put. Even though only in his 30’s, our hero has six sons, and wonderful kids they are, too. Perhaps a little too good to be true, but hey, this *is* fiction.

    Lee and his sons are travelling around in a large motor home, one converted from a more utilitarian large vehicle. We find that the motor home is made efficient by building it using yacht-building techniques, so that the most possible stuff can be put in the least space. Francis has used yacht-building in some of his other books (for example, Risk), and it was interesting to see the same thing here.

    Apart from Lee’s wife, who doesn’t really appreciate him, we also have Lee’s family on his mother’s side, from which he has been estranged, and most of whom outright hate him. Of course, by the end of the book, he has won respect from a few of them. The matriarch of that clan is a cunning old lady, with a whim of iron; her assorted offspring and their offspring are a wide bunch of eccentrics, and the descriptions of them will remind one of why the British aristocracy has such a reputation for eccentricity.

    The youngest son accompanying Lee is a smart kid, and listening to him point out common sense, or bits of chemical or physics trivia, to adults who know nothing but horses, is amusing. Maybe a little too good to be true, but Francis nonetheless makes him seem like a real little boy, so we can almost wish that real little boys were like this!

  • Yet another astounding Dick Francis mystery. Lee Morris is an architect/builder, a hands-on kind of guy who likes to get down and dirty restoring grand old buildings. His other obsession is his five young sons (“My wife likes to have babies,” he says). When he’s left small shares in a racetrack, he attends a stockholders meeting, where he is about as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party. The vicious and wealthy Stratton family mean to chew up and spit out this interloper, and his quiet existence with old buildings and babies literally blows up in his face.

  • Lee Morris restores old buildings to family homes and drags his ever increasing family from shelter to shelter as he works. His sons love the upheaval and adventure, but his wife has little regard for her off-springs once they are born.

    Lee with the aid of his five elder sons take their family bus to Stratton Park race course to mingle in a dysfunctional family feud. Into this light hearted story Francis weaves a very dark side of family behavior with all of his trade mark fine mystery action, horses, adventure, clues, and the diligent determination of a nice guy protagonist. This is one of a string of fine mysteries by Mr. Francis.


  • One of the things readers like about Dick Francis mysteries is the caliber of his heroes. They’re nice guys, strong, the sort many women always wish they could meet and fall in love with. With the same regularity, his villains are cruel, often psychotic, and hate other people, the hero in particular. This by no means makes them stick figure characters. On the contrary, they are quite complicated individuals and believable.

    In Decider, we meet Lee Morris, architect, whose marriage has fallen apart from the inside. Nonetheless, he and his wife, Amanda, have six children, all boys, with one about a year old. In spite of her falling out of love with him, they are still attracted to each other, and she loves having children. Lee’s adventure begins when he takes the five oldest boys off on an adventure, mixed with business. He inherited shares in a racetrack from his mother which were given to her by her former father-in-law, Lord Stratton, whose son, Keith, was her first husband and no relation to Lee. Keith was abusive and raped his wife, resulting in the birth of her first child.

    Therein lies the root of the story of Decider. When Lee decides to attend a shareholders meeting, he finds that all but one of the other shareholders are members of the Stratton family and none too happy to see him. Especially Keith, whose murderous rages are legendary.

    As is usual with Francis’s stories, Lee takes a terrible beating, but survives with the help of new friends and his sons. And when the grandstands at the racetrack are sabotaged, he has a mystery to solve. Ensuring at all times that his sons are safe, Lee pursues the past events of the Stratton family, ferreting out more than he bargained for.

    Not everything turns out well in the end in this novel, true to Francis’s style. But all of the loose ends are tied up logically and the reader comes away likiing Lee, his sons, and even a few of his new extended family. And it seems that Lee won’t be able to extricate himself from them for some time.

    There are many Dick Francis mysteries for the reader who likes this novel. Most of them are also on tape. For an American flavor, readers might also like Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy mysteries.

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