Steeplechase jockey-turned-author Dick Francis' last racing tale, "Break In," introduced us to a self-reliant rider named Kit Fielding who had to deal with a violent family feud that threatened him and his twin sister, a budding romance with a headstrong young woman and the navigation of several rather difficult races. The first of many surprises greeting us in Francis' new tale is the discovery that there is an Act Two to Kit's life.
Though many of the novelist's central characters are jockeys or former jockeys, he has gone out of his way to eschew series books, probably in an effort to make the point that, though they may share some common physical traits, jockeys are as individually unique as any other professionals.
"Bolt" is less a sequel than a continuation of the original book, and yet "Break In" is not required reading. With an almost miraculous economy of words, Francis swiftly sums up as much information as is needed from the earlier book, while simultaneously untying the ends that had been so neatly gathered. As Kit explains: "Winning the lady, back in November, had been unexpected, an awakening, deeply exciting . . . happy. Keeping her, in the frosts before spring, was proving the merry devil. My much-loved dark-haired young woman seemed frighteningly to be switching her gaze from a steeplechase jockey (myself) to an older, richer sophisticate of superior lineage. . . . " Returning also is the malevolent Maynard Allardeck, whose family has despised the Fieldings for generations. Kit cleverly devised a stratagem to keep him at bay in the last book, but Allardeck has not taken his defeat gracefully and, as a racing steward, is in a position to cause trouble.