Cover image for 10 lb. penalty
10 lb. penalty
Francis, Dick.
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Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, [1998, c1997]

℗1998, ©1997
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7 audio discs (7.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
After a young man gives up his dream of becoming an amateur jockey to enter the world of politics, he discovers that politics can be more exciting -- and deadly -- than steeplechase racing.
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Author Notes

Dick Francis was born in Wales on October 31, 1920. Because his father was a professional steeplechase jockey and a stable manager, Francis grew up around horses, and after a stint as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he became a steeplechase jockey himself, turning professional in 1948. He was named champion jockey of the 1953-54 racing season by the British National Hunt after winning more than 350 races and was retained as jockey to the queen mother for four seasons.

When he retired from racing in 1957 at the age of 36, Francis went to work as a racing correspondent for the Sunday Express, a London paper, where he worked for 16 years. In the early sixties, he decided to combine his love of mysteries with his knowledge of the racing world, and published Dead Cert in 1962. Set mostly in the racing world, he has written more than 40 novels including Forfeit, Blood Sport, Slay-Ride, Odds Against, Flying Finish, Smoke Screen, High Stakes, and Long Shot. He wrote his last four books Dead Heat, Silks, Even Money, and Crossfire with his son Felix Francis.

He has received numerous awards including the Silver Dagger award from Britain's Crime Writers Association for For Kicks, the Gold Dagger award for Whip Hand, the Diamond Dagger award in 1990, and three Edgar awards. He died on February 14, 2010 at the age of 89.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The popular and prolific Francis introduces a new hero to his stable of equestrian sleuths: teenager Ben Juliard, who dreams of becoming a professional jockey. But Ben's dream is shattered when his mentor accuses him of drug abuse and dismisses him on the spot. As it turns out, Ben's wealthy but distant father has been tapped to stand as a candidate for Parliament, and the elder Juliard has decided that he needs Ben by his side to prove to voters that he's a stable family man. Resigned to his fate, Ben begins his job as political aide, strategist, and baby kisser. But when someone aims a bullet at his father and then the candidate's car is tampered with, Ben finds himself becoming his father's bodyguard and protector. As the two struggle to overcome political rivals, death threats, and scandal-mongering tabloids, their once-distant relationship grows warmer and their affection deepens. Francis offers a uniquely engaging mystery spiced not only with intrigue, suspense, and equine anecdotes but also with a thoughtful look at the complex relationship between father and son. This heartwarming, witty, sometimes ironic, but always entertaining story finds Francis running in top form. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

He may be turning 77 this year, but Francis (To the Hilt) narrates his new thriller through the eyes of a 17-year-old without missing a step‘and, as usual, offers a mini-course in a slightly arcane profession along the way. The profession is British politics. The youth is Ben Juliard, who plans to spend his "gap year" (between school and university) as an amateur steeplechase jockey. His benevolent but disapproving millionaire father, George, arranges for Ben to be fired, however, and to help him win a by-election to replace a deceased member of Parliament. Having conquered London's financial City, George has designs on Disraeli's greasy pole and wants Ben to be "a sort of substitute wife. To come with me in public. To be terribly nice to people." Despite determined enemies (the ambitious widow of the dead legislator, her éminence grise adviser and a sleazy reporter out for dirt on anyone), and three possible attacks on the Juliards (shooting, car sabotage, arson), George prevails in the vote. Five years later, he's a popular cabinet minister (for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), while Ben has found happiness working in racing insurance and as a successful steeplechaser. A cabinet crisis makes George a leading contender for prime minister, and Ben worries that the unknown previous assailants will try again. They do but, despite some dicey moments, Ben prevails, although not without suffering a major loss. As usual in a Francis novel, the sweetest parts are about family; here, especially the growing love and understanding between father and son. The villains aren't particularly scary, but this smooth, nimbly paced charmer isn't really about bad people anyway, but about how the rest of us cope and live, sometimes in their shadow. BOMC main selection. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

More murderous horseplay from the prolific Francis. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Acknowledgements   One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve   New York Times Bestselling Author DICK FRANCIS "[A] SMOOTH, NIMBLY PACED CHARMER." --Publishers Weekly   "FAST-PACED." --Orlando Sentinel   10 LB. PENALTY   New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis is "one of our most reliable storytellers, a master of understated suspense" ( The San Diego Union-Tribune ). With this block-buster novel, he lives up to his dazzling reputation, delivering the compelling story of a father and son who must work together to defeat a deadly adversary ...   Even though Ben Juliard had always dreamed of becoming a jockey, he couldn't say no when his father--a prominent politician--pulled some strings and got him a job in his campaign for Parliament. Now Ben needs to do more than smile for the cameras. With each step up on the ladder of power come new dangers to the aspiring candidate. And as the mysterious attacks grow ever more lethal, Ben discovers that politics can be the most perilous horse race of all ...   "FEW THINGS ARE MORE CONVINCING THAN DICK FRANCIS AT A FULL GALLOP." -Chicago Tribune   "NOBODY SETS UP A MYSTERY BETTER THAN DICK FRANCIS." --San Francisco Chronicle RAVE REVIEWS FOR DICK FRANCIS   "It's either hard or impossible to read Mr. Francis without growing pleased with yourself: not only the thrill of vicarious competence imparted by the company of his heroes, but also the lore you collect as you go, feel like a field trip with the perfect guide." -- The New York Times Book Review   "One of the most reliable mystery writers working today ... Francis's secret weapons are his protagonists. They are the kind of people you want for friends." -- Detroit News and Free Press   "[Francis] has the uncanny ability to turn out simply plotted yet charmingly addictive mysteries." -- The Wall Street Journal   "A rare and magical talent... who never writes the same story twice ... Few writers have maintained such a high standard of excellence for as long as Dick Francis." -- The San Diego Union-Tribune   "Francis just gets better and better ... It can't be as easy as he makes it look, or all mystery writers would be as addictive." -- The Charlotte Observer   "After writing dozens of thrillers, Dick Francis always retains a first-novel freshness." -- The Indianapolis Star   "He writes about the basic building blocks of life--obligation, honor, love, courage, and pleasure. Those discussions come disguised in adventure novels so gripping that they cry out to be read in one gulp--then quickly reread to savor the details skipped in the first gallop through the pages." --Houston Chronicle   "Dick Francis stands head and shoulders above the rest." -- Ottawa Citizen Fiction by Dick Francis     Nonfiction by Dick Francis A JOCKEY'S LIFE THE SPORT OF QUEENS This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.   10 LB. PENALTY   A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author   PRINTING HISTORY G. P. Putnam's Sons edition / September 1997 Jove edition / October 1998 Berkley edition / August 2004   Copyright © 1997 by Dick Francis.   All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions. For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.   eISBN : 978-1-101-00720-4   BERKLEY® Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. BERKLEY and the "B" design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.     With thanks to my grandson, .   MATTHEW FRANCIS, AGED EIGHTEEN YEARS,   AND   WEATHERBYS   AND   NO. 10 DOWNING ST. One Glue-sniffing jockeys don't win the Derby. I'd never sniffed glue in my life. All the same, I stood before the man whose horses I rode and listened to him telling me he had no further use for my services. He sat behind his large antique paper-covered desk fidgeting with his clean fingernails. His hands were a yellowish white, very smooth. "I have it on good authority," he said. "But I don't!" I protested in bewilderment. "I've never sniffed glue or anything else. Certainly not cocaine. I've never even smoked pot. It's not true." He looked at me coldly with the knowing eyes of a rich, powerful, assured and physically bulky man who had inherited a good brain and a chunk of merchant bank, and trained racehorses prestigiously out of obsession. I was not yet eighteen at that point and, I now know, immature for my age, though of course I wasn't aware of it at the time. I felt helpless, though, in the face of his inaccurate certainty, and had no idea how to deal with it. "Sir Vivian ...," I began with desperation, but he effortlessly cut me off with his heavier authoritative voice. "You can clear off at once, Benedict," he said. "I'll not have my stable contaminated by rumors of a drug-taking jockey, even if he is an amateur and not much good." He saw me flinch but went on relentlessly. "You'll never be a top race rider. You're too big, for one thing, or at least you will be in a year or two, and frankly you look clumsy on a horse. All arms and legs. In your hands, the most collected jumper turns in a sprawling performance. With that and an unsatisfactory reputation ... well, I no longer want you associated with my stable." I stared at him numbly, hurt more deeply by his fairly brutal assessment of my lack of riding ability, which could perhaps be substantiated, rather than by the accusations of drug taking, which couldn't. Around me the familiar walls of his stable office seemed to recede, leaving me isolated with a thumping heart and no feeling below the ankles. All the framed photographs of past winners, all the bookshelves and the olive green wallpaper faded away. I saw only the stony face spelling out the effective end of my long-held dream of winning all races from the Grand National down. I expect seventeen is a better age than most to be chopped off at the ambitious knees. It just didn't feel like it at that moment of the slice of the ax. "Outside that window," said Sir Vivian Durridge, pointing, "a car is waiting for you. The driver says he has a message for you. He's been waiting a good hour or more, while you've been out riding exercise." I followed the direction of his finger, and saw, some way across the raked gravel of the imposing entrance driveway to his porticoed domain, a large black car inhabited solely by a chauffeur in a peaked cap. "Who is it?" I asked blankly. Vivian Durridge either didn't know or wasn't telling. He said merely, "On your way out, you can ask him." "But, sir ...," I began again, and dried to fresh silence in the continuing negation of his distrust. "I advise you to clean up your act," he said, making a gesture that directed me to leave. "And now, I have work to do." He looked steadfastly down at his desk and ignored me, and after a few seconds I walked unsteadily over to the high polished door with its gilded knob and let myself out. It was unfair. I had not cried much in my life but I felt weak then and near to weeping. No one before had pitilessly accused me of something I hadn't done. No one had so ruthlessly despised my riding. I still had a thin skin. No other good trainer would let me into his stable if Vivian Durridge had kicked me out of his. In a mist of bewildered misery I crossed the wide Durridge entrance hall, made my way through the heavy front door and crunched across the gravel to where the car and chauffeur waited. I knew neither of them. The August morning sun gleamed on black spotless bodywork, and the chauf feur with the shiny black peak to his cap let down the window beside him and stretched out a black uniformed arm, silently offering me a white unaddressed envelope. I took it. The flap was only lightly glued. I peeled it open, drew out a single white card from inside, and read the brief message. Get in the car. Underneath an afterthought had been added. Please. I looked back towards the big house from which I'd been so roughly banned and saw Vivian Durridge standing by his window, watching me. He made no movement: no reconsidering action, no farewell. I understood none of it. The handwriting on the card was my father's.   I sat on the backseat of the car for almost an hour while the chauffeur drove at a slow pace through the county of Sussex, south of London, approaching finally the seaside spread of Brighton. He would answer none of my questions except to say that he was following instructions, and after a while I stopped asking. Short of jumping out and running free at any of the few traffic-light stops, it seemed I was going to go wherever my father had ordained, and as I had no fear of him I would, from long-conditioned habit, do what he asked. I thought chiefly--and in a mixture of rage and unhappiness--of the scene in Durridge's study, his words circling endlessly in memory and not getting more bearable as time went on. The black car drifted past Regency town houses and open-fronted souvenir shops, past old grandeur and new world commercialism, and sighed to a stop on the seafront outside the main door of a large hotel of ancient French architectural pedigree with bright beach towels drying on its decorative wrought-iron balconies. Porters appeared solicitously. The chauffeur climbed out of his seat and ceremoniously opened the door beside me and, thus prompted, I stood up into the sea air, hearing gulls crying and voices in the distance calling on the wet ebb-tide strand, smelling the salt on the wind and unexpectedly feeling the lift of spirits of the sand-castle holidays of childhood. The chauffeur made me a small sketch of a bow and pointed at the hotel's main door, and then, still without explaining, he returned to his driving seat and at a convenient moment inserted himself into the flow of traffic and smoothly slid away. "Luggage, sir?" one of the porters suggested. He was barely older than I. I shook my head. For luggage I wore the clothes suitable for first-lot August-morning exercise with the Durridge string: jodhpurs, jodhpur boots, short-sleeved sports shirt and harlequin-printed lightweight zipped jacket (unzipped). I carried by its chin-strap my shiny blue helmet. With a conscious effort I walked these inappropriate garments into the grand hotel, but I needn't have worried: the once-formal lobby buzzed like a beehive with people looking normal in cutoff shorts, flip-flop sandals and message-laden T-shirts. The composed woman at the reception desk gave my riding clothes an incurious but definite assessment like a click on an identification parade and answered my slightly hoarse enquiry. "Mr. George Juliard?" she repeated. "Who shall I say is asking for him?" "His son." She picked up a telephone receiver, pressed buttons, spoke, listened, gave me the news. "Please go up. Room four-twelve. The lift is to your left." My father was standing in an open doorway as I walked down a passage to locate four-twelve. I stopped as I approached him and watched him inspect me, as he customarily did, from my dark curly hair (impervious to straightening by water), to my brown eyes, thin face, lean frame, five foot eleven (or thereabouts) of long legs to unpolished boots: not in any way an impressive experience for an ambitious parent. "Ben," he said. He breathed down his nose as if accepting a burden. "Come in." He tried hard always to be a good father, but gave no weight to my infrequent assurances that he succeeded. I was a child he hadn't wanted, the accidental consequence of his teenage infatuation with a woman biologically just old enough to be his own mother. On the day I went to Brighton I was almost as old as he had been when he fathered me. Over the years I'd gleaned the details. There had been a hullabaloo in both extended families when they were told of the pregnancy, an even worse fuss (product of the times) when my mother refused an abortion, and a frosty turning of backs at the hasty (and happy) wedding. The marriage-day photograph was the only record I had of my mother, who ironically died of preeclampsia at my birth, leaving her very young husband literally holding the baby with his envisaged bright future in ruins, so it was said. Excerpted from 10 Lb. Penalty by Dick Francis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.