Saturday, September 19, 2009

Even Money by Dick Francis

Ned is the owner of a small bookie operation working the horse races in Great Britain. He inherited the business from his grandfather after learning the trade at his side. Ned's wife Sophie is bipolar and often in the hospital. His grandfather has been gone for several years and his grandmother has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home. He never knew his parents who, he had been told, were killed in a car accident. One day after a race a man approached Ned and claimed to be his father. After some convincing, Ned believed him and spent an hour getting to know his father. Then in the parking lot they were attacked and Ned's father was left for dead. As he was dying, Ned's father told Ned to be wary of everyone. Ned spends the rest of the book trying to piece together why his father was attacked and trying to stay out of trouble himself.

Ned is a lonely, somewhat pathetic creature who doesn't seem to have much control over his life. He enjoys his work but has little ambition and seems content with just getting by. He would like to have children but his wife is too unstable. He doesn't really have any friends, just other bookies but they are more just acquaintances. Ned seems to come alive once his father is killed and he has a mystery to solve. I found the family's story much more interesting than the mystery. Ned's grandmother reveals some deep dark family secrets and his relationship with his mentally-ill wife is touching. The story line involving the mystery of his father's death and the bad guys that keep plaguing Ned lags and becomes stale at times.

The language wasn't too bad except for an f-word or two which appeared about halfway through. Up to that point I was thinking that it was pretty clean. Of course in Great Britain it would be considered to have a lot more swear words, words that those of us in the U.S. don't consider bad at all. Rated R for the swear words.

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