Ted Feit Triple Threat Book Reviews

Crossfire
Dick Francis and Felix Francis
Putnam, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-399-15681-6
Hardcover

This is the fourth work completed by Dick Francis and his son, and it certainly lives up the standards the late author set in a long and distinguished career until his death last February.  As did the more than 40 novels Dick Francis wrote, it takes as its milieu the Britishhorse-racing scene.

Captain Tom Forsyth, who left his mother’s home (and horse-training stables) at the age of 17 to join the army, returns after losing his foot to an IED in Afghanistan, only to find that his mother is in some kind of trouble.  She is being blackmailed to the tune of 2,000 pounds a week and is also being forced to make sure that her horses lose important races.  It falls to Tom to sort out the culprits, solve his mother’s business problems, and find his way into the future despite his physical condition.

Crossfire is a tale with the trademark Francis touch, carefully constructed, poignantly written and sensitive, especially with regard to observations of the trials and difficulties of being a soldier (demonstrated throughout by references to Tom’s past posts as well as the skills he learned as applied to his present endeavors), and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2010.

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The Queen of Patpong
Timothy Hallinan
William Morrow, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-167226-2
Hardcover

While its predecessors in this delightful series set in Thailand focused on all the trouble in which Poke Rafferty could find himself, this novel is exclusively the property of his wife, Rose.  As readers of the previous entries have learned, Rose was a bar girl (i.e., dancer and prostitute) before meeting and marrying Poke. And as most know, that is a dangerous profession.

While the domestic side of the novel includes Poke’s participation in a school production of “The Tempest,” in which his adopted daughter, Miaow, stars as Ariel, the dangerous aspect of the plot arises from Rose’s past.  This gives the author the opportunity to accomplish two objectives.  First, of course, is to show the miserable lives and inherent dangers of the life of a bar girl.  Second is to force Poke to really face Rose’s past and come to grips with its meanness and horrors.

The recounting of Rose’s life is poignant and sensitive, and the various characters in her life are skillfully drawn. Descriptions of Patpong Street and Bangkok and the strip joints and bars are graphic. The suspense builds and builds.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2010.

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Dog Tags
David Rosenfelt
Grand Central Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-446-55152-6
Hardcover

This legal-thriller-cum-amusing-background series, featuring the talented but not so enthusiastic defense attorney Andy Carpenter, once again demonstrates his love of canines.  The plot starts off with Andy representing a German shepherd, Milo, being held in the dog pound under police guard, with Andy seeking a bail hearing.  It seems that the dog is owned by Billy Zimmerman, an ex-cop who lost his leg while serving in Iraq and is now accused of murder.  In fact, Andy gets to represent both master and dog before it’s all over.

As the story develops, in order to survive after his return from Iraq and not being able to get his old job back as a Paterson, NJ, detective, Billy had trained the dog to jump up and snatch valuables which he could then convert to raise funds to survive.  One night, Billy and Milo observe someone handing over an envelope to another person.  Milo snatches it and runs away, later burying it.  Meanwhile, the man who handed over the envelope is shot and killed.  Billy, who had served under the man in Iraq, is accused of his murder.

Andy is begged initially to free the dog from the pound, and as that case develops he takes on Billy’s as well. Complication upon complication then compound the plot, with all of the usual characters in the series, plus the dog, playing vital roles in what has become the trademark characteristic of an Andy Carpenter trial: a hopeless
case to somehow salvage, and often a national catastrophe to prevent. The novels are always written with humor and a light touch, and this entry is no exception.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2010.

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