A bit of a departure from a traditional Francis horse-thriller…
Felix Francis has done a very nice job continuing his father’s horse-themed mysteries, and if you only read the blurb on its webpage, Iced seems to be just another one of these. Iced is actually a bit more than that, though, as it bounces back and forth between two storylines: a retrospective look at protagonist Miles Pussett’s difficult early life and mental health battles, and today’s story, with a now sober Pussett cautiously, and somewhat unwillingly, dipping his toes back into horse racing after a long hiatus.
Since this is a Felix Francis book, there is, of course, some horse-related skullduggery to figure out. Which Pussett eventually does. But the backstory of his early life – how he struggled with depression, hit bottom, was helped by some friends and medical professionals, and eventually seems to be figuring things out – is perhaps the more compelling half of the book. Readers who are only looking for a traditional Francis horse-thriller may be a bit disappointed, but those who are willing to appreciate something a little different will be quite happy with Iced.
On a personal note, one minor issue for me was that I had a little bit of trouble sometimes keeping track of the shifts from past to present and back. So perhaps Francis could have been a little clearer somehow on those. (I’m not quite sure how, but then I’m not an author!) On the other hand, this was balanced by my pleasure in learning more about the sport of toboggan racing, and also about horse racing on the ice, which, prior to this, I had no idea existed. Finally, please keep in mind that I try to fight “star-flation” a little bit, so I don’t give many five-star reviews and four-stars from me is a solid “read this book” recommendation. And my thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the advance review copy.