Triple crown by Felix Francis

cover image

Jefferson Hinkley Bk 3. Simon and Schuster, 2016. ISBN 9781471155482
(Age: 15+) Crime. Mystery. Horse racing. Jeff Hinkley is back, this time taking the reader on a ride to the US, behind the scenes in the American racing industry. Jeff Hinkley has been seconded by the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency (FACSA) as an outsider to see if he can find the mole in the organisation, who is letting corrupt trainers know when they will be raided. He is able to set up some structures for this to happen, but on a raid at the Kentucky Derby, things go wrong and a trainer is shot dead. Going undercover as a groom, Jeff faces danger as trainers go for broke, in the hope of winning the coveted Triple Crown.
The theme of drugs in sport came to the fore in this novel, and it was fascinating to read how Jeff had to contend with the problem of new ways of drugging horses. There were a few surprises and some thrilling action in the last part of the book that kept me reading to the end.
I have been a big fan of the novels by Dick Francis and enjoyed Refusal and Damage by Felix Francis, but this one fell a little flat for me. Even though the information about the American racing scene and life as a groom was interesting, at times it felt as if it was more important than the mystery and suspense, for which both Felix and his father Dick Francis have been known. Nevertheless, as I did really enjoy Damage, I will pick up any Jeff Hinkley novels in the future, hoping that there is more character development and a faster paced plot for him then.
Pat Pledger