Downloaded Crossfire last night and started reading before I went to bed. It is okay, but not yet the typical enthralling Francis read. To be clear about where I'm coming from, I have not only read every Francis novel in print, I've analyzed some of them down to the last sentence. The man wrote, as I've said before, the ultimate honorable hero. His pacing, characterizations, plotting, and details are the work of a master.
I awoke in the middle of the night, knowing what is missing. Those little details that show, and don't tell, the reader are in short supply. There's a scene in an office, and I remember how Francis has used that same device before, and the room's furnishings tell us what kind of people work here. Is the desk chair a worn, comfy leather armchair, or is a new Ikea utilitarian model? He would, with a few minor details, show us what our hero is facing in breaching this inner sanctum. Not so in Crossfire. The hero enters the office, does his snooping, and discovers instantly what he wants to know. So much for layering the story.
A Francis hero would never admit to casual sex and one night stands on a wholesale basis. Never. But Tom Forsyth, hero of Crossfire, does. This should have been a red flare for the book's editor that Dick Francis' name didn't belong on this book. Because if the venerated and venerable Mr. Francis had anything to do with this book, beyond maybe agreeing to its publication before he passed away at age 90, I'm Angelina Jolie. It's fine by me if his son Felix, whose name is on the book along with that of his father, writes mysteries. But do so without dragging your father into the mix.
I feel cheated. Betrayed. And angry with Penguin Putnam. Shame on them for using their esteemed author, Mr. Francis senior, in such a way. Felix can make it, I'm sure, because of his last name, for a while longer. But it's pretty clear he's not his father.