Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Blood Sport


Blood Sport is one of Dick Francis's earlier novels, first published in 1967. It is edgier than most of his mysteries, and, in some ways, a little disturbing.

Like most of his books, this one involves a competent professional dragged off his patch for some amateur sleuthing involving race horses. In this case, 38-year-old Gene Hawkins is a government personnel manager, at least on paper. His real job as some kind of spy-catching secret agent is only hinted at.

While on a (stress-induced) vacation, his boss distracts him with a moonlighting assignment to find three valuable stud horses stolen in America – an adventure that takes him from Tennessee horse country to the far corners of the American West.

The plot moves right along, with plenty of clever bits. But it is darker than the usual Francis story. Hawkins is depressed to the point of being suicidal, frequently considering shooting himself or otherwise doing himself in. He actively toys with the possibility of consoling himself in the arms of his boss's 17-year-old daughter. And there is a surprising death that makes sense in terms of Hawkins's situation, but gives the ending a moral ambiguity atypical of a Francis book.

Because Blood Sport deviates from Francis's winning formula, it may be off-putting to some loyal fans. Others will enjoy the variation on his usual themes.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


This counts as one of my books for the Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner.


  1. Very interesting review. I've not heard of the book or the author but it sounds like something just up my alley.

  2. Dana: Dick Francis is a big favorite of mine. He was prolific -- he wrote 47 books, mostly mysteries. Click here for his bibliography.

  3. Can you believe I've never tried his work? Sounds like I should start with some of the later stuff.

  4. Thanks for the info. I'm adding a couple of his to my list.

  5. Dick Francis was a favorite of mine for many years. I think I read every one of his books. What I liked, besides his characters and plot, was that I always learned about something new in each book. I do miss him.

  6. Kathy: I'm addicted. He's my book crack.

    Dana: Super! Glad to be of service.

    Barbara: I worry about some day finishing all of them and having no more to look forward too. He did live to be 90 and wrote books all the way to the end (some with his son, but still). I guess I can always start over and read them all again!


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