R.I.P Dick Francis

It seems like I’ve been reading Dick Francis’s books forever, and it’s hard to believe that he’s now gone. And that, worst still, after the release of the next book, there won’t be any more. Dick Francis wasn’t only one of the few writers who inspired me (James Herbert being the other), he was the one writer I always wished I could emulate. When I pick up one of his books, I know I’m going to get lost in the world he creates. I know that I’ll care about his characters and I’ll need to keep reading to find out what happens to them. His books have made me laugh, they’ve made me cry, and he has had some the very best ‘hooky’ first lines I’ve ever read. For example:

They both wore thin rubber masks. Indentical. From Bonecrack (one of my favs, and one that made me cry)

“You’re a spoilt bad-tempered bastard,” my sister said, and jolted me into a course I nearly died of. From Flying Finish. (another one that made me cry)

I looked at my friend and saw a man who had robbed me. Deeply disturbing. The ultimate in rejection. From High Stakes.

Some people have complained that his later books aren’t as good as his earlier ones, and to some extent I agree. The earlier ones were filled with wonderful, bone crunching action that kept your heart racing and made you wonder how the hell the character was going to get out of it. But though this was missing from the later ones, you still had what was always the heart of his stories–great characters you cared about. He was a master at that, and I really will miss my yearly trip to the bookstore to buy his book. He was the only one I ever bought in hardcover.

So rest in peace, Dick Francis, and thank you not only for the many fabulous characters you’ve given us over the years, but the many hours of reading enjoyment.