After a six-year absence from the bestseller lists, Dick Francis roared out of the gate with 2006's Under Orders, demonstrating once again every ounce of his famed narrative drive, brilliant plotting, and simmering suspense. Hard on the heels of that triumph comes Dead Heat, set against the backdrop of Britain's famed Two Thousand Guineas Stakes.
Max Moreton is a rising culinary star and his Newmarket restaurant, The Hay Net, has brought him great acclaim and a widening circle of admirers. But when nearly all the guests who enjoyed one of his meals at a private catered affair fall victim to severe food poisoning, his kitchen is shuttered and his reputation takes a hit. Scrambling to meet his next obligation, an exclusive luncheon for forty in the glass-fronted private boxes at the Two Thousand Guineas, Max must overcome the previous evening's disaster and provide the new American sponsors of the year's first classic race with a day to remember.
Then a bomb blast rips through the private boxes, killing some of Max's trusted staff as well as many of the guests. As survivors are rushed to the hospital, Max is left to survey the ruins of the grandstand-and of his career. Two close calls are too close for comfort, and Max vows to protect his name-and himself-before it's too late.
MWA Grand Master Francis's first collaboration with his son Felix, a former physics teacher who researched many of his father's previous bestsellers, introduces an engaging hero, though longtime fans may find certain plot elements, like an unlikely love interest and sinister figures somehow connected with shady racetrack doings, less than fresh. The reputation of Max Moreton, a young wunderkind chef with a restaurant in Newmarket, England, suffers after guests at an affair he caters fall ill with food poisoning. This calamity nearly jeopardizes another job--feeding several dozen attendees at a major horse race. While that meal goes off without a hitch, a terrorist's bomb decimates the crowd at the track. Despite the official theory that an unpopular Middle Eastern ruler at the event was responsible, the chef wonders whether the bombing is related to the earlier food poisoning and turns amateur sleuth. Crisp writing and well-paced action help offset the routine plotting. (Sept.)
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-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 17, 2007
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