Author: Dick Francis
Benedict Juliard is an aspiring jockey who must bypass his dreams of horse racing to help his father, George, in his quest to enter the world of politics. At 18, the reserved Benedict is asked by his father to enter into a pact: Neither of the two will do anything that could somehow hinder or destroy George’s blossoming political career. Young Benedict, who has no stronger ambition than to ride steeplechase as an amateur jockey, agrees to the pact, without possibly knowing what lies ahead.
Twelve years pass, and Ben has since abandoned his dream of making a career on the racetrack. Like his father, Ben enters the political arena, becoming George Juliard’s closest ally and most trusted confidant as he makes his move to become prime minister. However, Ben suddenly finds himself the target of a fierce attack brought on by his father’s brutally ambitious enemies. Through his son, George Juliard is discredited and destroyed just as he makes his drive for the prime ministership, leading Ben into an existence of treachery and lies.
As these events unfold, Ben quickly realizes that it is his responsibility to protect his father’s career as well as his own, but more important, he must protect their lives. Like past Francis books, 10 LB. Penalty is a masterfully plotted mystery that also examines the power of family and the bond between father and son.
The book has a perfect amalgamation of horse racing and politics, although completely different worlds, the author does a wonderful job creating a story set in both.
This is the first Dick Francis novel that I read and found it to be an excellent read. The characters are real, and you find yourself empathizing with the main character, Benedict. All young Benedict wants to do is become a Jockey. But, his father’s political agenda puts an end to his dreams. His father wants him to help him with the campaigns, and he reluctantly starts getting involved, albeit still longing for the life he had always dreamt about.
But then, George, Benedict’s father faces certain incidents that individually could be written off as accidents, but collectively it makes Ben suspicious. Is there anybody who wants his father dead?
While Ben and his father never had a relationship, all these incidents really made Ben nervous and he starts looking for clues.
While I knew nothing about Racing, the way the author explains all the terms and conditions, as well as the “10 lb Penalty” without deviating from the story is quite marvelous.
I am totally going to read more of this author!