Bolt by Dick Francis
Kit Fielding is a successful steeplechase jockey for Princess Casilia de Brescou. He is engaged to her husband’s niece, Danielle, who came from California. But Danielle has been distant for the past few weeks. Kit’s emotions take over his racing as he worried about losing Danielle to another man, the Princess’ nephew. He walks up to the Princess’ box after the races one day to discover a her in shock and an unpleasant gentleman with her. He accompanies the Princess to her home in London and waits as she requests.
Her husband’s partner, Henri Nanterre, is threatening him. Nanterre wants their old, respected French business to start manufacturing plastic guns. Roland de Brescou can not sink his family honor and sign over the rights of the company to perform such an untasteful business. Nanterre threatens the de Brescou family and friends. Kit is one of Nanterre’s obstacles – he protects de Brescou when Nanterre holds a gun to Princess Casilia’s head.
Someone sneaks into the stables at night and kills two of the Princess’ best horses with a humane killer, a bolt. Kit had hoped to win the Grand National race on one of them. Then Danielle is threatened as she leaves her job at 2 AM. Nanterre makes threatening phone calls, bragging about the crimes and how anyone connected to the de Brescou’s is not safe, especially the jockey. While Kit is trying to protect himself, the de Brescou’s and the Princess’ horses, his old family enemy is always in the race course background, trying to discredit or hurt Kit.
Dick Francis writes wonderful mysteries set in the English racing community. Bolt is excellent. Kit Fielding is honest and upright, loves his job, and respects his boss. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her. His love for Danielle is a large part of the character, making him human and believable. Francis has crafted a mystery that keeps the reader at the edge of the seat, certain of knowing the ending, then throwing a twist that changes everything. I have liked all of the Dick Francis novels I have read so far. Francis creates characters that are real and likeable. His mysteries are well written to keep the reader hooked. Bolt is an admirable example of his work.