Dick Francis's books always have something to do with horse racing. In this case, that's just part of the plot.
Benedict Juliard is 18. He's out of school and living on his own, making his living as a jockey, when his father arranges for Benedict's boss to fire Benedict. The senior Juliard is running for Parliament. A widower, he needs to show the public that he's a family man.
George Juliard has always been generous with Benedict, but the two have never been close. Benedict's mother died in childbirth and he was raised by an aunt and then went to what we in the US would call private school. At school, he does well in math and the sport of shooting.
At first, Benedict is none too happy to do as his father wishes. He wants to spend his life surrounded by horses, not making the political circuit - or going to university, which his father thinks he should do next. But when several attempts are made on his father's life, the two become close. It's Benedict who will begin to unravel what's happening.
One surprising thing about this book is that it takes place over several years, following the young Benedict as he gets to go back to the stables and then onto a career in the business end of horse racing.
I always love Dick Francis's male characters. One of the great pluses of this book, to my mind, is that it features two strong but gentle, likeable men. There's a sweet romance, too. I ended up caring very much what happened to 10 Lb. Penalty's characters.
This synopsis report prepared by Ann Gaines