March 12

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Proof

Proof by Dick Francis.

Another great mystery by one of the world’s best thriller writers.

Tony Beach is a young and recently widowed wine merchant. He is catering a party for one of the local horse trainers when a runaway horsebox runs into the marquee full of people, killing some of them, seeming like a horrific but random accident. Due to his ability to identify wines and spirits by taste, both the police and a private detective enlist Tony’s expert advice and help for the investigation of the ‘accident’.  As the investigation progresses they discover links to another ongoing investigation dealing with the sub-standard alcohol served in a local night club. The ‘horsebox accident’, some hijacked trucks full of spirits, the counterfeit claret and whiskey sold at a cafe, and the brutal murder of one of the cafe staff are from a common source, and are all linked to the same villain. His unintended involvement puts both the quiet unassuming Tony Beach and the private investigator in danger of their own lives.

Dick Francis is recognised as one of the best thriller writers in the world, and has more than forty bestsellers to his credit. I enjoy the information that I pick up on subjects unrelated to the world of horseracing  (in this case the world of wine and spirit production), and Dick Francis has the ability to convey this knowledge in a fascinating and interesting way. He has won a number of writing awards, including the Crime Writer’s Association Cartier Diamond Dagger and three Edgar Allan Poe Awards. He died in 2010, but his writing style lives on in the books written by his son Felix Francis with whom he co-authored some of his final books, and whose novels I also enjoy.