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by John Francome
Headline, September 2011
416 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0755349954

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Womanizing antiques dealer Glyn Cole was the sort of man who left trouble strewn in his wake, usually for his ex-girlfriends. Cole disappeared two years ago but not many people have missed him. When his body turns up in decidedly unusual circumstances as a result of a major storm, more trouble very quickly follows for quite a few people in the horse-racing community in and around the village of Lambourn.

Comparisons with Dick Francis are probably inevitable for any books using horse-racing as a backdrop, comparisons that Francome is no doubt heartily sick of, but I may as well set my stall out at the start and say that whilst this might not be up to the standards of vintage Francis at his best, this book can definitely hold its head up in the company of the later ones, and is a long way in front of the most recent runners from the Francis stable.

Francome takes the interesting tactic of what seems to be an unusually early reveal in when he doesn't hold back the identity of some of those involved in hiding the body of the dead antiques dealer, and this is no doubt something that won't find favour with everyone, but to my surprise, it actually served to increase my interest rather than diminish it as I was left with the distinct impression that not everything was as it seemed.

The usual rich array of characters contribute to the various twists and turns of the plot and I was particularly drawn to Freddy Drummond, a pragmatic and likeable young man left with brain damage following a childhood accident in a pool. The various female characters were somewhat more interchangeable and I had a degree of difficulty at times telling them apart, but that is a minor niggle in what was a generally enjoyable book.

The racing scenes were sparser than usual, but the ones that were included, although at best of peripheral relevance to the plot, were engaging and as fast-paced as the rest of the book. STORM RIDER is an enjoyable light read and whilst at times predictable still allowed me to while away several pleasant hours in its company.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, January 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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