Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review of the Day: Banker

Dick Francis is an all-time favorite of mine.  So when I say that he had a formula for his novels, I don't mean to deride the quality of his writing or the entertainment value of the books. He had a winning formula:

His novels seem to always involve a protagonist (usually a man) in a job not known for its pizazz (insurance, wine selling, horse training, or meteorology, for example), with some connection to British horse racing, and a mystery to solve. This general outline works because it brings in a huge part of the story that is independent of horse racing and, because the gentlemanly heroes always enjoy and take pride in their work, the reader is left with a greater appreciation for the profession involved.

Banker follows this formula with great success. Tim Ekaterin is a merchant banker in London, responsible for making loans and raising investments for all sorts of private business ventures. One of his deals is to finance a stud farm's purchase of a champion horse, but things go horribly wrong.

The story is complex, involving a charismatic horse healer who uses herbal remedies and laying on of hands; horse-buying swindles; teratogens; and a depressing love triangle with the hero, an older woman, and her husband, the hero's professional mentor.

This romantic storyline is the weak part of the book. It never feels integrated into the main story and its resolution is too quick and too pat, although this does not detract from the overall enjoyment of a terrifically satisfying mystery.


  1. Hello Gilion,

    I have this book in my TBR pile and I'm afraid that I do 'buck the trend' somewhat, as I always enjoy a Dick Francis novel.

    True, his plots may be a little staid and formulaic and he never really gets to grips with the romantic aspects of his stories, but there is just something addictive about them, that keeps me coming back for more.


  2. I always loved Dick Francis' books mainly because I always learned about a profession or a craft that I hadn't known anything about. It was fun to learn about horse people, for instance, and wine selling in Great Britain. The plot was good but not the big attraction for me.

  3. Yvonne: I should have been more clear that I really LOVE his novels. They are my favorites. Even the cold fish aspect of the romances is charming in the same stiff-upper-lip way of the rest of the stories.

    Barbara: Me too! I've learned a lot about horse-related businesses, but also wine, insurance, and, in this one, pharmacology.

  4. I didn't realize we shared a fondness for Dick Francis! Or else I realized, and forgot.;-)

    (Yes, I'm catching up on blogs tonight, how'd you guess? LOL).


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