Trial Run, by Dick Francis

Randall Drew is an ex-jockey who retired because of problems with his eyesight (might as well be Sid Halley; their characters seemed pretty interchangeable to me). He's matey with a minor royal, who asks him for help in clearing up a problem that's threatening the chances of the UK equestrian team in the forthcoming Moscow Olympics - can Randall go to Moscow and try to find out the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a Russian jockey, who collapsed while visiting England?

This was written in about 1985 I think, so is full of cold war cliches: Moscow is grey and cold, the Russian food is awful, no-one trusts anyone, and there are bugs hidden in the hotel walls.

This was OK but nothing special. I had a bit of trouble keeping track of who everyone was: once in Moscow, Randall very quickly makes contact with quite a lot of different people, and the story seemed to jump between locations quite quickly, so that I couldn't always remember exactly what was happening. But that didn't matter too much; you couldn't have been expected to work out who the baddies were, and the action sequences were reasonably well done. On one occasion Randall was thrown into an icy river, and rescued when someone threw him a scarf which he managed to get between his teeth. I found myself clenching my jaws at this point, so I suppose the writing must have been effective.

Completed : 24-Nov-2005 (audiobook)

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