Dick Francis, Rider Turned Writer, Dies
Dick Francis, who parlayed his career as the British Royal family's jockey into a lucrative living as a mystery writer, died Feb. 14 at a home he kept in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Francis was a successful jockey in England when in 1956 a horse he was riding for the queen mother suddenly collapsed just strides away from the finish line during a race. He was lengths ahead of the pack and would have won.
The spectacular spill spread across Britain where photos of the horse splayed out on the turf accompanied many front page news stories.
Mr. Francis retired from race riding months later.
It was a mystery Mr. Francis never solved, but one that he said compelled him to start writing about the sport he loved. As he approached age 40 he began writing crime stories to supplement his pay as a turf writer for a London newspaper.
Thoroughbreds play a role in nearly everyone of his books. Whether a mystery unravels in a shed row, or a murder happens in the paddock. Some of his books only mention horse racing briefly, through a wager made a betting window, or by having one of the characters be a stable owner.
Nonetheless, Mr. Francis is credited with creating his own genre: racing mysteries.
In all, he wrote more than 40 mystery novels delivering almost one a year for the rest of his life. More than 20 million Francis books have been sold worldwide, translated in to nearly 24 different languages.
The Post will have Mr. Francis' obituary in the paper tomorrow. For now, feel free to comment below about your favorite Francis memories.
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