10 Lb. Penalty by Dick Francis

Although controversy surrounds the authorship of his mysteries, Dick Francis is a staple for horse fans.

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10 Lb. Penalty by Dick Francis


  • Mass Market Paperback: 306 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.87 x 6.76 x 4.22
  • Publisher: Jove Pubns; (October 1998)
  • ISBN: 0515123471

    One of the most impressive aspects of Dick Francis's long and celebrated career (he's won three
    Edgar Awards, the Silver Dagger, the Gold Dagger, a Cartier Diamond Dagger, and was named the 1996 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master) is the freshness that he brings to each of his novels. Though every one of his 30-plus works of fiction has drawn from some aspect of the world of horses, Francis turns this constraint into a powerful source of inspiration. In 10 Lb. Penalty Francis adds several new arrows to his quiver. His protagonist, Ben Juliard, narrates the tale in a vivid first person that begins in his insecure late teens instead of the settled middle age of the usual Francis hero. Also, Ben's relationship with horses is more of a fading dream than an active reality. The book begins with Ben's expulsion from Vivian Durridge's stables; he's removed with a false accusation of glue sniffing. But as Ben soon discovers, it is, in fact, his powerful father's machinations that are behind his ill fortunes. The elder Juliard is "standing for Parliament," and the bachelor candidate needs his son by his side for a year of campaigning if he hopes to win. Ben accedes to his father's wishes. He almost always has, but he soon finds that his "gap year"--his year before entering college--is going to be a nightmare. Orinda Nagle, the widow of the recently deceased Hoopwestern MP, and her companion, Alderney Wyvern, resist George's campaign from the start. Then, Usher Rudd, a muckraking journalist, turns his vitriol to George. When an attempt is made on George's life, he and his son find themselves inside a vigorous tale of suspense that takes several narrative years to sort out.

    Francis's lucid prose is the driving force in this political mystery, and the realistic rendering of the complicated father-son relationship between George and Ben adds a sophistication and weight that marks the author's best fiction. --Patrick O'Kelley

    Reader Reviews
    I didn't care who won., August 15, 2003 Reviewer: chris black from Rayleigh, Essex United Kingdom Dick Francis is one of my favourite writers - but this is NOT one of his best. He has a typical Francis hero - underestimated, honourable, tenacious - the only difference this time being that this hero, Benedict, is a teenager in the shadow of an energetic, charismatic father, George Juliard. When writing one of his books Francis often decides to explore a particular profession or occupation- for example film direction in "Wild Horses" or aviation in "Rat Race". In "10lb Penalty" he tackles politics,and Benedict's father is standing for parliament. I was looking forward to seeing whether Francis got the details right about elections and campaigning. He was fairly accurate with his details, but he didn't convey the flavour of campaigning- to political activists, elections can be just as exciting as the Grand National, but you wouldn't guess that from this book. What bothered me more was that I didn't really care who won the election. George Juliard is just too flawless to be interesting. Although politics are supposed to be his whole life, we never get a clue as to what his beliefs are. In fact we don't even get told which party he belongs to - although he almost certainly is a Conservative , and his main opponent Paul Bethune probably a Liberal Democrat. Actually, the Bethune family are more interesting that the Juliards. The unfaithful but witty husband, the wife who hates being dragged into politics and the grunting teenager sons make up a more realistic political family . Oh yes, there's a murder plot. But it wasn't very believable.

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