High Stakes is a particularly good Dick Francis book, which says a lot, since they are all first-rate. It follows the tried and true Francis formula of a hero who is successful in a particular profession, has a connection with horse racing, and gets drawn in to solve a crime.
In this case, Steven Scott is the inventor of a popular line of mechanical children's toys who used his wealth to buy racehorses. But Scott's lack of hands-on involvement makes him a sitting duck for a shady trainer working a con on gullible owners.
High Stakes is more of a caper than Francis's usual, more straightforward who-done-it. Scott figures out the con early on and puts together his own, elaborate sting to catch the bad guys. This involves recruiting a mishmash team of amateurs, all with particular skills or connections, a horse-buying trip to Florida, and a love affair with a firecracker American gal.
It's no spoiler to say that the good guys prevail and the bad guys get their comeuppance. But, like always, it’s a great ride.
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This is my first book for the European Reading Challenge and counts as my UK choice. What country will I visit next? Probably Italy, when I participate in the Venice in February Challenge.