Even Money, by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

read by Martin Jarvis

Dick Francis' success is justly earned: few writers can so surely be depended on for that well-crafted, well-researched, gripping and entertaining journey that is the crime novelist's art. The sporting milieu is well-trodden, but never dull, and I'm sure Francis has introduced many a new racegoer to the sport through his novels, even though horseracing seems to be full of the most untrustworthy individuals with whom you could ever have the misfortune to become entangled.

Even Money is no exception. Bookmaker Ned Talbot's world is thoroughly turned upside down when a man approaches him while he is taking bets at Royal Ascot and introduces himself as his father - a father he had been told all his life had died in a car crash when he was a baby. In characteristic Dick Francis style, murder is followed by threats which are followed by nasty goings on and a carefully planned and executed escape route. But I don't need to go into any more detail because if you have ever enjoyed a Dick Francis yarn you are going to enjoy this new one equally as much, if not more.

One theme, however, that of father and son, makes one reflect on the father-son joint authorship of Even Money -Felix Francis sharing authorship with his father. Parent-children relationships are a constant thread in Dick Francis' novels, providing great material for plots and perhaps also reflecting the author's more private feelings.

If you have never listened to a reading or dramatisation of a Dick Francis novel then you will be in for a great four hours. He truly is a rewarding writer to have read aloud. And who better to read to you than Martin Jarvis, who brilliantly voices all the nuances of class and regional variation of the numerous characters of the racing world.

Be sure to master the subtleties of betting odds before the off.

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