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As an English teacher, I always used to recommend students to look at Dick Francis' style: never a word wasted, the story always driven on, the description clear, the characters engaging, the tension always maintained.
Some people think you have to be interested in horses and racing to enjoy his books: this is simply a misconception for, while they often have racing and racing people as part of the background, they are not always part of the main plot. As it happens, however, "Nerve" IS about jockeys and horse racing - but (as always with Francis) it is a riveting story which anybody will enjoy. It is full of characters with whom it is easy to empathise, a dash of real nastiness in the chief 'baddie' - and it also contains one of the best descriptions of a horse race that one could ever wish to hear.
It is also superbly read by Tony Britton. If you haven't experienced a Dick Francis novel before there is no better place to start - and (having read and listened to most of them now) I envy you the pleasure you will have in the future in the company of a truly masterful story teller.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I am just so tired of the same old gratuitous sex and violence, 4 letter vocabulary and formulaic plot of the stuff being written today that I'm going back and listening to old favorites now on audio. Not to say that there is no sex, violence or cussing in Dick Francis novels, they are crime stories after all and Francis can be gruesome along with the best of them.
I've been a Francis fan for a long time. I find him a wonderful storyteller who balances description and action such that his stories don't lag. Once I start one, I don't want to put it down. Yes, he has a formula: all of his stories are somehow connected to the world of British steeplechase racing. But every book is different -- different heroes, different crimes. Nerve was written in 1964 and was his second novel. Yes, it reflects Britain in the early 60s--tut tut and cheerio--but the story of jealousy and murder is timeless and you will enjoy riding along with Rob Finn as he tries to figure it out.
As for the reader, Tony Britton is delightful, pleasant to listen to, clear crisp and well paced.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I read this when it first came out -- 40 years ago? It's incredible still. Francis creates the very best villains, and any novel that can claim arguably the best opening line in mystery can hardly fail. Tony Britton is stellar in the role of Finn, if a bit too mature for the twenty-something hero. The breathing referred to in the negative review is required by the script -- our hero engages in exhausting and stressful efforts to escape a gruesome capture, and another character has asthma. The only drawback is with the uneven recording. The engineers failed to preserve the tone and timbre of prior entries, so the volume is uneven, and one portion sounds as though Britton is reading in a bathroom. Still, well worth the money to get lost in a to a classic, memorable suspense novel.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful