As we know, the writing of Dick Francis novels has been taken over by his son, Felix. In fact, the "official" title of this book is Dick Francis's Refusal, but that seems a little silly to me. It might seem silly to Felix as well: this title doesn't appear on his book page, at least not as I type. The page otherwise seems definitive. What's the deal?
And, after I was less than thrilled with Felix's previous DF novel Bloodline, I had kind of thought I would stop reading his efforts. But I saw this on the remainder display at Barnes & Noble, and (as you'll notice over there on the Amazon pic) there's a little red toothy circle that says: "Sid Halley RETURNS".
Well, OK. I like Sid a lot. Let's see what Felix does with him.
It turns out Sid is in retirement from his previous job as a racing investigator. He's now married to a molecular biologist, they have an adored six-year-old daughter, and he's making a decent living as an investment advisor. But (of course) that would make a pretty dull book. Out of nowhere, an old friend calls him to investigate some races that exhibited odd betting behavior on the "Tote" (Britspeak for "parimutuel"). Could the races have been fixed, without the notice of racing officials? Sid is reluctant but agrees to check the list his friend provides.
Well, before you can say "watch out, Sid", the friend is dead, an "apparent suicide". And a mysterious phone call threatens Sid unless he writes a note to the racing officials saying "Nope, nothing shady going on as far as I can tell."
Sid soon finds himself up against a very nasty guy, who's not shy about utilizing every nasty tactic in the extortionist's cookbook: kidnapping, dognapping, arson, frameups, physical violence, and more. Could Sid be, at last, outmatched?