Great writers are great psychologists. Aside from command of language, imagination, etc., the best writers have the ability to submerge their own personalities completely and create consistent characters wholly unlike themselves. In the second rank of talented writers who don’t pretend to be great are those with likable personalities that come through to readers and help to make their books enjoyable.
Dick Francis is an example of the latter, a good writer whose kind, brave, and gentlemanly personality shines through and makes the reader care about his heroes. As shown by “Triple Crown”, published by Felix Francis in 2016, Felix, who was a co-writer on his father’s later books, doesn’t quite come up to the mark. Of course he’s a generation younger, but his updating of the formula doesn’t add anything worthwhile. He abandons his father’s old fashioned sensibilities regarding coarse language and bathroom humor, to no positive result. The one major female character has sex appeal but no personality, and protagonist Jeff Hinkley isn’t particularly admirable or likable.
One good quality of the Dick Francis books that Felix has adopted is doing his homework. Dick Francis was able to speak knowledgeably about horse racing and training, newspaper writing, and running a charter air company, but often chose other lines of work for his protagonists, always learning enough about them to be convincing. For Triple Crown, Felix Francis has learned a lot about the transmission and effects of equine viruses.
The plot takes British Horseracing Authority investigator Hinkley to the U.S. to hunt corruption in the competition for the Triple Crown, and is quite good.
Mystery Time will be offered as a free Kindle book on Amazon from June 26th to June 30th. In this Alex Kertész mystery, a colleague dies in Alex’s arms at a biochemistry congress in Prague and an old watch may have mysterious powers.