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by Dick Francis

The bestselling author of Decider is back with another suspenseful ride

The hero of Whip Hand returns

Although more than a decade has passed since the publication of Whip Hand, little time has elapsed in Sid Halley's life. Still in his mid-thirties, he remains troubled, courageous, unwilling to admit defeat to disabling injury or to corruption. Now, though, Sid faces nineties' dilemmas, dangers, and deeply demanding decisions.

"I had this friend that everyone loved, and I put him on trial...I grieved for the loss of a friendship, and for the man who looked the same but was different, alien...despicable. I could more easily have grieved for him dead."

Having exposed an adored racing figure as a monster, Sid must testify at the man's trial. But the morning of his appearance, a tragic suicide shatters the proceedings and jars Halley's conscience. Plagued by regret and the suspicion that there's more to the death than has yet come to light, he is catapulted into days of hard, rational detection, heart-searching torments, and the gravest of perils. Business as usual for Sid...

Download Come to Grief epub
ISBN: 067153629X
ISBN13: 978-0671536299
Category: Mystery
Subcategory: Mystery
Author: Dick Francis
Language: English
Publisher: Audioworks; Abridged edition (November 1, 1995)
ePUB size: 1989 kb
FB2 size: 1471 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 455
Other Formats: lrf lit doc rtf

“India, a shade desperately, said, “Only saints get themselves burned at the stake.”

This theme — ‘What cost integrity?’ — drives this work. Moral, ethical, psychological battles form the core. ‘Come to Grief’ includes multiple layers. Sid’s grief from bitter divorce, pain of child dying of cancer, torture of proving best friend vicious abuser, heart wrenching destruction of his reputation, and (contrast) physical pain — which he easily overcomes.


For example, this discussion about saintly morality . . .

“Charles said, “Do you consider that transferring Yorkshire’s secret files to your own computer was at all immoral? Was it ... theft?”

“He spoke without censure, but censure was implied. I remembered a discussion we’d had once along the lines of what was honorable and what was not. He’d said I had a vision of honor that made my life a purgatory and I’d said he was wrong, and that purgatory was abandoning your vision of honor and knowing you’d done it.”

(subtle and profound)

“Only for you, Sid,” he’d said. “The rest of the world has no difficulty at all.”

“It seemed he was applying to me my own rash judgment. Was stealing knowledge ever justified, or was it not? I said without self-excuse, “It was theft, and dishonorable, and I would do it again.”

(no guilt — no sin)

“And purgatory can wait?” I said with amusement, “Have you read The Pump?”

(newspaper famous for slander, lying, viscous abuse)

After about five miles he said, “That’s specious.”
“The Pump’s a different sort of purgatory.”
I nodded and said idly, “The anteroom to hell.”

( . . . does this recall Dante and Milton? ‘Purgatory’ and the ‘anteroom to hell’?)

One touching revelation is Sid’s self-doubt, pain of heart, self-condemnation . . .

“Soberly, realistically, in the Mersey wind I looked at the man I had become: a jumble of self-doubt, ability, fear and difficult pride. I had grown as I was from the inside out. Liverpool and Newmarket weren’t to blame. Stirring and getting back into the car, I wondered where to find all those tungsten nerves I was supposed to have.’’

‘Grown from the inside out’. This profound belief in free-will, each human is responsible for his decisions, character, choices sets Francis apart. Maybe only Neville Shute and Robert Heinlein come close (that I know).

Of course, the flip side of an unbending devotion to free-will is the conviction that evil is also freely chosen. This is so . . . so . . . defiantly counter-cultural!

Sid receives this letter at the end . . .

“If you’re wondering why I cut off those feet, don’t you ever want to break out? I was tired of goody-goody. I wanted the dark side. I wanted to smash. To explode. To mutilate. I wanted to laugh at the fools who fawned on me. I hugged myself. I mocked the proles.’’
“And that scrunch.’’
“I did that old pony to make a good program. The kid had leukemia. Sob-stuff story, terrific. I needed a good one. My ratings were slipping. Then I lusted to do it again. The danger. The risk, the difficulty. And that scrunch. I can’t describe it. It gives me an ecstasy like nothing else. Cocaine is for kids. Sex is nothing. I’ve had every woman I ever wanted.’

“And then there’s you. The only one I’ve ever envied. I wanted to corrupt you, too. No one should be unbendable.”

Francis presents this personal, heartfelt desire to destroy the good (envy) in many of his books. This effort, toward the end of his life, draws a vivid, colorful, detailed portrait of, not human weakness, but consciously, freely chosen wickedness.

Sid Halley, former champion jockey, looks small, harmless and naive. He's so inconspicuous that you may not even notice he has a prosthetic hand.

But in fact, Sid is a brilliant private investigator skilled at espionage, lock picking, computer hacking and judo - a man of action who never shows fear.

His good friend Ellis Quint, another ex-jockey, has retired from racing to become a TV chat show celebrity. He's utterly charming and inspires happiness everywhere he goes. Everybody loves him.

But in fact Ellis is secretly indulging in sick acts of cruelty to animals. No one would believe it of him. Sid Halley is nearly destroyed trying to expose the truth.

Dick Francis heroes almost always get badly battered in a fight or two. But Sid Halley's tribulations go far beyond that. Though totally without self-pity, he`s never gotten reconciled to the loss of his hand. In this book, Sid must also bear the burden of betraying a friend.

I find the Sid Halley books challenging because life is so very hard on the handicapped investigator. I don't want my heroes to suffer this much! But Dick Francis felt he had reached a higher level with these books. They delve into the nightmares that won't go away - without, however, losing the essential optimism that epitomizes Dick Francis.
Dick Francis delivers in this action packed thriller that is impossible to put down. The hero, Sid Halley, is real and brilliant. He is a great guy who gives the impression of being ordinary but in reality, he achieves his goals with honor and integrity. Highly recommended.
I've been a Francis fan for many years, initially falling in love with Proof, Straight and Driving Force. I'm gradually catching up with novels that passed me by, thanks to Kindle.

Come to Grief has quickly become a favourite, and I ploughed through the whole thing in the space of an afternoon and evening. Compelling reading, interesting, life-like characters and beautifully paced. Definitely one to recommend.
Sid Halley is one of my favorite of Francis' characters, and in COME TO GRIEF, the hero isn't beat up as much as he's been in the past (he is a bit, of course--this is a Francis book, after all), and I liked that change. If you love horses--which I do--some aspects of this story may be difficult to read. But this is a deftly plotted novel, and a true pleasure to read.
An entertaining read, this book is fun just because it is full of horse racing background and our hero was once a champion jockey. His friendship with Rachel is truly heartwarming, giving another plot line that shows a very human and vulnerable side of Sid Halley. The ending, though leaving me with a "Whew!" regarding Halley's escapes from the grim reaper, left me cold because Rachel had become a very important part of the story and there were questions that should have been resolved for it to be a "feel-good" novel. Still, Dick Francis is a good author, tells a tidy tale, and keeps my interest throughout.
One of his best before he died. A grizzly topic, so be warned, Sid Haley gets more introspective, perhaps because Francis was reflecting on his own nearly-done life.
Not as good as his other books