My guilty pleasure is Dick Francis, the author of those immensely readable horse-racing thrillers. Francis was a distinguished jockey who had a bad fall and retired from the turf. He decided to write novels and in due course produced more than 30 of them.
The action usually takes place in or around the racetrack. I know nothing of racetracks, or indeed of horse racing, but I understand the appeal of the sport. The standard Francis plot involves a sympathetic hero, either a jockey or somebody associated with horses, and a background set of villains, all of whom are bad sportsmen and even worse at losing. The villains resort to violence, but fairly discreetly and certainly not in a way to alarm the reader too much.
What sets these books apart from others is the fact that Francis likes to write in the first person, drawing the reader into what seems like an intimate conversation. To make the pleasure of a Francis novel even greater, try reading one in the bath. Blissand nobody can see you.
Smith's next book is The Careful Use of Compliments, out in August.
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