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FINAL BREATH
by John Francome
Headline, October 2009
384 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0755352955


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Former jockey John Francome has cantered along very comfortably for the past twenty years turning out readable books set in the horse racing world. It's hard to avoid comparisons with Dick Francis, but whereas Francis goes for the ordinary man surrounded by evil, Francome's characters tend to be more flawed.

Jockey Danny Clark looks as if his life might be turning round again. Eighteen months previously, his fiancée Kirsty was murdered. Now he's in a relationship with her best friend Tara, and it seems as if he might finally find happiness, even though Kirsty's killer has never been found.

They set up home in a cottage at Latchmere Park, the training yard run by Danny's mother Christine in the heart of the UK's horse racing empire. It seems like the perfect solution for Tara, a woman with much to hide. She's had a promising career as a solicitor in Manchester, but has had to flee the city when she decides to give evidence against her corrupt boss.

Kirsty was murdered in the British Virgin Islands whilst on holiday with the Latchmere clan. And now her brother Rick, a promising young jockey, is returning to the stables…

The main snag with the book is that I didn't much care about any of the characters. Tara only justifies too late on why she has run from her previous life. With the exception of Kirsty's quietly tenacious father, who is determined to find out who killed his daughter, none of the others in the cast have much to recommend them.

FINAL BREATH is a sprightly enough read, with some chilling moments when the bad guys are on stage. But, seventy pages before the end, just when it looks as if Francome's going to cut to the chase, he goes all talky and the moment is lost. If you want it in racing terms, the book's an afternoon at Wincanton rather than a grandstand seat at Cheltenham.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, October 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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