The last weeks I’ve been on a small literary crime spree and now the turn has come to Dead heat by Dick & Felix Francis.
Max Moreton is a celebrity chef, not on top of the list, but on it.
Right now he wishes he was dead, a not uncommonfeeling if you have food poisoning, but the next morning he’s still alive. He’s also alive when the evening arrives, but that’s only luck. As the chef in charge of the tainted dinner, he know he’ll get the blame for the food poisoning, but there’s no way he can be blamed for the explosion that destroys a private box at Newmarket racecourse the next day. An explosion that kills several people and almost Max too.
When it becomes clear what the guilty ingredient in the dinner was, Max sets out to find out who deliberately poisoned the meal. That particular ingredient had no business being in this dinner and it’s not something that he could have put in by mistake. Then more accidents happen and Max is starting to wonder why he seems to be the target.
Dick Francis knows his trade. It’s a solid book with a likeable hero and (after a little while) a likeable heroine. The mystery has lots of twists and turns and leads to unexpected places. As usual there’s horse people present, but this time it’s more about polo than horse racing. I also find the small glimpse into the world of celebrity chefs entertaining, and fittingly enough Gordon Ramsay is one of the people who gets thanked in the preface.
All in all it’s unmistakenly a work by Dick Francis, and in that lies it’s biggest weakness. For me, who’s read a bunch of Dick Francis novels, it’s too easy to guess what’ll happen next. I find his leading men a little to alike, it becomes predictable, and when I’m not reading a series that gets a bit tiresome after a while.
I did enjoy the book in spite of this and I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn’t such a jaded Dick Francis reader.
Here’s the opinions of a few other people: