The Re-Read Project – For Kicks
“The Earl of October drove into my life in a pale blue Holden which had seen better days, and danger and death tagged along for the ride.”
Last time, when I reviewed Nerve, I said “I think this might be my favourite Dick Francis book.”
Which is why it’s weird that as I approached this one, I was thinking, Oh no, I think this might be my least favourite Dick Francis book …
(Caveat: I, sadly, am not someone who has been able to fully adopt the co-written Felix Francis books as Dick Francis books – I wish I could, and I’m glad some people love them, but to me they’re not the same. So, when I say “least favourite,” I’d be referring to my least favourite of the original group of Dick Francis books – I still like this entire group of books better than any of those co-written by Felix Francis)
So, why was I looking forward to my For Kicks re-read with some level of trepidation?
Well, for that, we also need to go back to what I wrote last time:
“To me, this book nails the theme that then runs through the rest of the entire slew of Dick Francis books. I mean, sure, there are mean, nasty villains, and there are the dangers inherent in horse-racing, and sometimes the character even does something else dangerous as a sideline, but that’s never what he’s scared of.
He’s always scared of himself. Of failing. Of not living up to his own internal expectations. Always.”
Really, it’s about pride.
Pride is, generally, both the strength and downfall of Dick Francis’s main characters. Because of their pride, they accomplish great things. Also because of their pride, they put themselves in sticky situations.
I think, for me, For Kicks is so sticky as to be painful.
This character really does get his pride trampled all over, and it makes me cringe, and cover my eyes with my fingers, and think Oh no …
I’m not even saying this like it’s entirely a bad thing. I’ve taken it as a bit of a badge of honour myself when readers have told me some of the things Chris does, in Meant to Be, make them wince. I figure it means I’ve written close enough to the bone, and that they care about the character.
I also never liked the boots on the original cover – which is the one I had; the one in the graphic illustrating this post – and that’s probably quite fitting because Daniel (the main character) also quite hates those boots.
Anyway, all to say – no surprise – when I started re-reading this book I couldn’t put it down, and kept turning my Kindle pages when I should have been getting back to work.
Bonus: the portion of the book set in Australia was different and well-written.
Do you have a least favourite Dick Francis book? Or maybe you want to disagree with me and tell me why the Felix Francis co-written books are just as good or better than the originals? Let me know!
Next up: Odds Against (heading into Sid Halley territory!)