Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Crisis" by Felix Francis is a good murder mystery in the vein of Dick Francis, just not as good

What if Dick Francis never wrote novels and what you started with was a Felix Francis novel. When do we stop comparing the son to the father. Their styles are completely different. Dick Francis wrote in your face, mano a mano novels where the hero set out to defeat a evil plot in the horse racing world, typically taking the evildoers to the cleaners himself, but not before he faced extreme pressure to give up. As I have said before, a Felix Francis books lacks the early Dick Francis's pacing, wording and ties to horse racing, but he does know how to paint the numbers. He has overcome the stylistic differences between his writing in some instances. I felt, however, that this was not one of them.

"Crisis", Felix Francis latest murder mystery set tangentially in the English horse racing world, has a good little murder mystery at its heart and a decent hero sort, who shows some spine and lust. But this is just a good book, nothing spectacular and maybe that is what we should continue to look forward to.

There is a lot of good horse racing information. From a brief walk through of an auctioneer area, to morning gallops of the trainers and information about signing horses up for runs. But the information is dropped (info dump style) in as if we are observing from afar or reading something written just to be inserted therein. It lacks punch and vitality. In one instance, the info dump does not even advance the story at all.

Harrison Foster, the nattily dressed hero is a "crisis manager", who is investigating the death of seven horses trained by Ryan Chadwick at a training yard that used to be owned by his father Oliver Chadwick. Tony Chadwick is a jockey who rides for the family. The horses are owned by Foster's client Sheikh Karim. He soon learns that human remains were found at the scene of the fire, and picks up another client, Declan Chadwick, Ryan's brother who is suspected of killing the victim, who turns out to be a relative of the Chadwick men.

While the early going of the book establishes Foster's bona fides and that he knows nothing about the horse racing world, it takes a little time to do so, but reads okay.

But Francis's book bogs down in the middle because he telegraphs "Why" the victim of the crime was suffering psychotic episodes way too early and the "Who" is limited to just a small coterie  of the Chadwick men Also, the novel feels a little too soap opera like. Feuding brothers, dominating father, cowed mothers, women in their cups way too early in the morning, the tropes are standard mystery fare.

Its been said many times that Dick Francis mostly failed to have female love interests in his novels. But Felix Francis has never been shy to include some love interest, so this book also has Foster finding true love.

Foster will be stuck in a barn with a violent horse, and has all the spine of previous Francis heroes and will have to use some wit to figure out the killer but it takes a long time coming.

Not my favorite read.

But if you never read a Dick Francis novel, maybe you will be satisfied with this work.

But for the rest of us, its a good mystery, but not a "Dick Francis Novel"

With This Ring

J.M. Snyder
JMS Books
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Matt diLorenzo’s ex, Jordan, confesses all to a tabloid, telling the world Matt’s secret—something in his semen gives his sexual partners super powers. After the article appears, Matt expects all sorts of weirdos to try to track him down, but the only call he receives is from a research scientist at a local condom factory who claims to have a solution to his little “problem.”

The offer is tempting, since the powers Vic Braunson receives from Matt during their lovemaking sessions are unpredictable and scary. Matt wants to keep his lover safe, and is eager to hear what the scientist has to suggest. And Vic is willing to try the cure and lose his superhero abilities for his lover’s peace of mind...even if it means losing the special mental connection they share, a bond formed by the powers, a bond that has become such a part of their lives that neither is quite prepared when it suddenly disappears.

Then Vic discovers that the scientist has an agenda of his own. Can he protect Matt, even without his super strength or their mental bond?

My Review

After 5 years together, Vic grew accustomed to the superpowers bestowed on him every time he and Matt made love. Matt worried that his powers would eventually harm Vic. When an Indian researcher reads about Matt’s superpowers in a tabloid magazine, he contacts him and offers a cure. Matt wants to get rid of the powers and live a normal life, so he willingly accepts the offer.

The cure works, but neither man is prepared to deal with the fact that they can no longer communicate telepathically. Doubt and insecurity creep in until Matt decides to visit the doctor so he can make an adjustment to the “ring” that would allow Matt and Vic to keep the telepathic powers, while ridding themselves of the other undesirable ones.

As Matt will soon learn, the “doctor” is not what he appears to be. Vic will have to use every means at his disposal, minus his superpowers, to save Matt from a potentially dangerous situation.

I really enjoyed this fourth installment in the Powers of Love series. Vic's and Matt’s growing love for each other is always very sweet and satisfying. It was nice to see Vic’s boss has a softer and more compassionate side, and I loved how Matt fought off the security guards roughing up Vic.