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In this thriller of a typically high standard, Francis also investigates the world of photography and the reader will learn more about it than they thought possible from reading a piece of fiction. Francis appears to enjoy investigating industries and skills that are different to his own and learning about them so much that he can write a brilliantly exciting novel about them. This is in the usual format from Francis in that our hero is again a steeplechase jockey. Almost accidentally, our hero finds himslef trying to protect several innocent and unwitting people from a photographer who has blackmail-type photographs of them doing something that they shouldn't. Another great read from Francis and again, impossible to put down.
This novel has a fast-moving, interesting plot which successfully combines a number of themes. The protaganist is a jockey facing the end of his career, with the possibility of a new one in photography just starting to open before him. Drawn into investigating the burglary of a recently deceased racing photographer (and fellow jockey's father), he deals with not only photographic puzzles but also moral dilemmas, as well as revisiting his childhood and being forced to re-evaluate his family history. This may sound a bit heavy, but in fact the novel is a well-paced, enjoyable read. The puzzles are satisfying, while the protaganist's non-traditional family background is handled with a fairly light touch. The moral debates around using bad means (blackmail) for good ends are neither side-stepped nor subjected to the kind of heavy internal monologue beloved of some crime writers. The mystery is absorbing enough to keep you turning the pages and the ending comes as a real surprise. The various threads are resolved without it all being too neat and contrived. Reflex is not great literature or deep philosophical examination. This is not a criticism: the book has no such pretensions. However, the more serious themes are presented and given due weight, adding substance to a fast-moving crime novel. Altogether, worth a read, especially for Dick Francis fans.