Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis: R.I.P.

Dick Francis, famous for this horse-racing mystery novels, died at the age of 89.

I only met Mr. Francis once. I interviewed him for the first Sports issue of the Mystery Readers Journal and for the Oakland Tribune many years ago. As you may know, journalists often interview their subjects in their hotel rooms. Such was the case. Dick Francis had ordered lunch for us both. When it was delivered, the waiter said, and for you, Mrs. Francis? Dick quickly and strongly said, "She's not Mrs. Francis." Just setting the record straight. Wonder if the waiter was confused...or had he seen and heard it all?

Dick Francis wrote over 40 best-selling novels selling over 60 million copies during his career. He was also a champion jockey in the 1940s and 50s and the Queen Mother's jockey. He rode over 300 winners.

Francis first published his autobiography in 1957, and his first thriller, Dead Cert, followed five years later. Forfeit, in 1968, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and Whip Hand in 1979 the Golden Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association. A television series, The Racing Game, was based on his story Odds Against. In 2000, Dick Francis became a CBE.

Francis's most recent works, Dead Heat and Silks, were co-authored by his son Felix.

Very sad. Another mystery author leaves the community.

Read the BBC Obit HERE.

Read Marilyn Stasio NYT obit HERE.


Barbara said...

I loved Dick Francis novels and was happy to receive an ARC of EVEN MONEY written with his son. It was a true Dick Francis story and I enjoyed it very much. He always seemed to be such a gentleman. I was concerned about him when his wife died, only partly because she had done his research, but mostly because he seemed so lost without her. I think his heart died with her. What a talent we've lost.

Auntie Knickers said...

Wow, you were mistaken for Dick Francis's "trophy wife!" I came late to Dick Francis and so I am fortunate to have many of his books yet unread. By the way, Francis also won the Edgar for Best Novel in 1981 and 1996, and was a nominee in 1967, '68 and '69 before his first win in 1970. He will be missed.

Janet Rudolph said...

He will certainly be missed. I met him a long time ago, when Mrs. Francis was alive. I don't think the waiter was thinking trophy 'wife.'

Prue said...

As a writer, his books always left you thinking;'I never knew that!', as he always included information on everything from silk weaving to glass blowing to semi-precious stones to how a breathing shell for polio-sufferers works. He first told me what a hypocaust was, which has led me to an ongoing fascination with all things of the Roman empire, and I see so many things through his eyes because he made me aware of their existence.
He will be sorely missed, but his books are a fine requiem.