"Julian Trent, you have been found guilty by this court of perpetrating a violent and unprovoked attack on an innocent family including a charge of attempted murder. You have shown little or no remorse for your actions and I consider you a danger to society."
When defence barrister Geoffrey Mason hears the judge's verdict, he quietly hopes that a long and arduous custodial sentence will be handed down to his arrogant young client. That Julian Trent only receives eight years seems all too lenient. Little does Mason expect that he'll be looking Trent in the eyes again much sooner than he'd ever imagined.
Setting aside his barrister's wig, Mason heads to Sandown to don his racing silks. An amateur jockey, his true passion is to be found in the saddle on a Thoroughbred, pounding the turf in the heat of a steeplechase. But when a fellow rider is brutally murdered - a pitchfork driven through his chest - Mason's racing life soon becomes all too close to his working life. The prime suspect is one of their brethren, champion jockey Steve Mitchell; the evidence is overwhelming.
Mason is reluctant to heed Mitchell's pleas for legal advice - but soon he finds himself at the centre of a sinister web of threat and intimidation. Mason is left fighting a battle of right and wrong, and more immediately, a battle of life and death... his own.
Dick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. The winner of over 350 races, he was champion jockey in 1953/1954 and rode for HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, most famously on Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories (Field of 13), and the biography of Lester Piggott.
During his lifetime Dick Francis received many awards, amongst them the prestigious Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the genre, and three 'best novel' Edgar Allan Poe awards from The Mystery Writers of America. In 1996 he was named by them as Grand Master for a lifetime's achievement. In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2000.
Dick Francis died in February 2010, at the age of eighty-nine, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.