Cover of the first edition of "Whip Hand"

image: Wikipedia

After leaving the RAF following World War 2, Dick Francis became a leading jockey. Winner of over 350 races, and champion jockey in the 1953-4 season, he was riding Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, to victory in the 1956 Grand National when the horse inexplicably stumbled with 40 yards to the finish.

Francis retired from racing, becoming a journalist and author. A best selling author in fact – over 40 of his novels became international best sellers. But we’re really concerned here with Odds Against, which introduced the character of Sid Halley. Like Francis, a former jump jockey, Halley’s retirement is forced after a racing accident sees his hand crushed – and eventually, it’s amputated. His father-in-law (well, ex father-in-law) suggests he take up detective work. Not keen, he’s invited to his father-in-law’s house for a weekend and … let’s just say things start from there.
Read more