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by Dick Francis
Recorded Books, January 1999
Unabridged audiobook pages
ISBN: 078877154X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Buy or rent from www.recordedbooks.com

PROOF is one of Dick Francis' strongest books, and when you're talking about a master like Francis, that's saying something. In this book, Tony Beach, a wine merchant nearly out of his mind with grief over the recent death of his young wife, is engaged to supply the drinks for a trainer's end-of-season party. A horrific accident ensues, but not before Tony hears a rumor that a restaurant nearby has been selling whiskey that is not what the label claims it is.

At the same time as the police investigate the accident Tony is contacted by an inspector who is assigned to follow up on complaints about the false labeling of spirits in several local establishments. The officer asks him to help the police with their inquiries by becoming their expert on wine and spirits. Tony agrees.

He finds himself involved still further in the problem when he is approached by Gerard McGregor, a private investigator who is looking into the hijacking of several tankers of whiskey from a nearby supplier. Tony and McGregor join forces to discover who is responsible for the theft and fraud.

PROOF is at once one of Francis' most violent and most meditative books. The story opens with an accident that results in awful carnage and quickly moves on to an extraordinarily cruel death of a wine steward.

In contrast to the violence, the book is also a meditation on courage. Tony has always believed himself to be a coward and a failure, and PROOF is really about how he comes to understand that he is neither. Francis here accomplishes an amazing tour de force of character study in the guise of mystery. Along the way we learn a lot about wine and whiskey and how they're made.

We're also treated to a rollicking good time as we follow Tony while he figures out who's responsible for the crime. Even the secondary characters are carefully and convincingly drawn, creating a fully realized fictional world.

This is a fast-paced mystery with a stunning climax, and it is well-served by Simon Prebble's reading. Recorded Books has done the mystery community a service by producing a quality audio version of an astonishing story.

Reviewed by Carroll Johnson, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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