Publishers Weekly Review
A colorless lead and a tacked-on romantic subplot mar Francis's unmemorable eighth novel set in the English horse racing world chronicled by his father (after 2017's Pulse). Small-town lawyer Harry Foster gets a new lease on life when he lands a position with Simpson White Consultancy, a crisis management firm. Despite Foster's complete ignorance about horses, he's dispatched to Newmarket to represent the interests of Sheikh Ahmed Karim, a charismatic Arab king who has "made lasting peace" in the Middle East. The sheikh's prize horse, Prince of Troy, who was expected to easily win the Derby, died in a fire that also killed six other colts. Foster is charged with ascertaining whether the blaze was accidental or arson, a task that becomes trickier when the body of an unidentified woman, who was dead before the fire started, is found in the stables where the animals were housed. The lawyer's efforts aren't appreciated by either the police or members of the dysfunctional Chadwick family, who were responsible for training and caring for Prince of Troy. The clichAcd denouement lacks the younger Francis's usual inventiveness. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Ed Wilson, Johnson & Alcock (U.K.). (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Felix Francis has a string of winning equestrian mysteries, including his latest, which continues the run he began by coauthoring four novels with his father, Dick Francis, the late champion steeplechase jockey turned award-winning mystery writer, who died in 2010. This time out, Francis improvises to great effect on the theme introduced by Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land (1961); here, though, the strange land is the intricate world of caring for, breeding, running, and trading valuable Thoroughbreds. When the favorite for the British Epsom Derby, Prince of Troy, is destroyed in a stable fire, Harry Foster, legal consultant specializing in crisis management for a London firm, is called to Newmarket to investigate, despite his knowing nothing and caring less about horses. It's fascinating to watch Harry, whose lack of horse knowledge is offset by his expertise in handling crises, dig into the workings of the family who own the stables and have long dominated British horse racing. When the remains of a human body are discovered in the stables, the mystery expands into examining family conflicts and years of exploiting and mistreating stable workers. As the investigation grows more and more intense, readers will appreciate the wealth of fascinating facts Francis' hero learns (for example, all horses in the Northern Hemisphere have their birthday on January 1, no matter when they were actually born). Another trip to the winner's circle for the talented Francis.--Connie Fletcher Copyright 2018 Booklist