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August 28, 2010

Wickedness
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:55 AM *

The story in the Mirror says,

Leo Hunter, 6, lands a mega deal for 23 books

By Rod Chaytor 27/08/2010

A boy of six has won a book deal worth thousands.

Leo Hunter was awarded a 23-story contract with an American company after they read his first tale, Me and My Best Friend.

Leo started the book - about a little boy called Liam and his make-believe adventures with his dog Henry - when he was five.

It is now hitting bookshelves in America and is available online in the UK.

Leo, from Derby, said: “Writing makes me very, very happy. It’s so interesting.

“I like writing about dogs, people, every single thing.

“I like Harry Potter but I like my books even more.

“I would like to be more famous than JK Rowling - even more famous than Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell.”

Leo’s novelist mum Jamie, 29, gave her literary agency Leo’s tale and they brought it to the attention of US publishers Strategic Book Publishing.

Strategic Book Publishing? The ones who are being sued by the State of Florida? Yes.

The deal is worth thousands, all right, but not for the boy. It’s worth thousands to Bouncing Bobby Fletcher and his magical carousel of rotating scams.

Three gets you seven that Leo’s novelist mom Jamie is represented (if you can call it that) by Robert M. Fletcher under another of his many names and constantly-changing business identities.

But the Mirror didn’t notice.

Want to know what’s worse? Publishers Weekly picked up the story, and they didn’t notice that Strategic Book Publishing is a vanity press either.

Writer Beware has picked this one up.

You’d think that someone, somewhere, would have Googled on “Strategic Book Publishing,” wouldn’t you?

[UPDATE: 20JUN12]
Bobby has renamed his scam (again) to Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency (SBPRA), Publish On Demand Global, Best Quality Editing Services, and Best Selling Book Rights Agency, plus a dozen other names.


Comments on Wickedness:
#1 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Yes, but, PW's gone to the dark side. I'm afraid I'm not going to believe anything they say from now on.

(I can't remember where I heard about it; possibly a tweet from abi or Mary Dell.)

#2 ::: doctorpsycho1960 ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 10:05 AM:

Ripping off children. That's got to improve their reputation.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 10:25 AM:

When I read that, I immediately thought of my 9-year-old nephew who is already quite the storyteller and how he'd be crushed when the scam falls apart.

#4 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 10:40 AM:

TexAnne @ 1 -- That PW article reads almost like a satire of the self-pub scam "industry". It's a little like the articles at Conservapedia; it's hard to tell the satire from the genuine stupidity.

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 11:34 AM:

And, for those not wanting to bother with the link, this is the website for the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper. I see there's already been a comment posting with links to the Florida investigation.

I don't know how the story got to the Mirror in the first place--is Fletcher looking for a new market--but it isn't likely to do him any good. Just be careful about what you say where a UK libel court might claim jurisdiction.

#6 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Research. I'm sure I've heard of that somewhere.

Seriously, what's gone wrong with the press? Has everyone forgotten basic fact-checking? Or...was it ever common?

#7 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Dammit, the poor kid probably has a better shot at real publication if he writes his 23 books, illustrates them himself, and has Mum Xerox and staple them together for sale at the local bookshop. The mother's an adult; doing this to a six year old is just miserable.

#9 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 02:07 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 8: Wow. This woman is a master class in self-promotion. Declaring herself one of the top 50 up and coming authors in the comment section of a New York Times blog for Google juice purposes? You almost have to admire that much cheek.

Bobby Fletcher may be Public Enemy #1 in this story, but I think I see a candidate for #1.5 at least.

#10 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Hmm, that's interesting:

"J.S. Huntlands is the author of Nick Twisted Minds and is currently working on more books in this series, as well as 23 more books in the Me and My Best Friend series." (my italics)

Found at strategicbookpublishing.com, by following one of the Google hits Bill put up.

I wonder if it isn't Mom writing the actual books and passing them off as the kid's for the extra publicity boost?

Which is even scummier than if he wrote them himself, I think.

#11 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 03:07 PM:

One adult/child creative team that has worked well is with the Axe Cop web comic (donations are helping to finance the kid's college fund).

#12 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Bet you a Doc Smith doughnut she turns up here before Comment Sixty.

#13 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 04:23 PM:

With that much effort into Google-grooming? Sucker bet. You're just here for the donuts, aren't you?

#14 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 04:40 PM:

The things I've read about UK newspapers over the last decade suggest that no, they don't usually do any fact checking of apparently straightforwards non-libel related articles. There's just too few journalists and too little time. Even one like the Mirror, which had a good reputation until 20 or 30 years ago, when it got into the hands of a certain megalomaniac.

#15 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Speaking of organizations with a good rep. that have gone over to the dark side, I also see from Writer Beware that Bowker now has a pay-to-submit display slushpile.

#16 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 05:53 PM:

JS Huntlands has been here before.

Robert M. Fletcher, Part III: Spammer and Scammer - comment 14

#17 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 06:02 PM:

She also came back in person (i.e. not as comment spam) later in the same thread, as both JS Huntlands and J Hunter.

#18 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Hitting bookshelves? That's plural! Do you suppose they printed two books, or do they move one from shelf to shelf?

#19 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Hey, so if she claimed her son wrote the books but it was really her, do you think Robert M. Fletcher will sue her for fraud?

Mm, popcorn.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 09:49 PM:

That poor kid. My hands are itching for that mother's neck. Her own kid, for heaven's sake!

#21 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Tatterbots #16: I note that the comment you link, dated almost a year ago, mentions the very book/series under discussion. PW may be a little behind the times....

#22 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Xopher, I'm with you. My brother has had eebil publisher contact and we had a long phone call about a month about it. (Well, what started it was a question about his taxes because of where I work. I opined that asking me about tax law was like asking a bank teller about mortgages and that shut him up on that front. On the being ripped off part, I have asked him to send me his contract so I can review and see if there is some language that, if he sells it elsewhere he would have to pay the f!kers. So far he has not shared

I live with a contracts maven, her whole day job is contracts for specific stuff that keeps a manufacturing plant going. And my best college class was Book Publishing, where our professor shared a contract and had us go through it and identify things that were an authors responsibility, the publisher's responsibility and other responsibilities that had to be shared.

#23 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 12:38 AM:

And it turns out that Jim McDonald's comment 18 on the same thread was extremely fore-sighted.

#24 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 12:59 AM:

And she claims authorship of that very book that she's now claiming her son wrote.

#25 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 01:00 AM:

I gotta say, when I click a link that says "Praisegod Barebones on Wickedness", this isn't what I'm expecting to get.

#26 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 01:51 AM:

You know, the whole 'fire and brimstone' thing? It's so 1640s.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2010, 07:45 PM:

I'm reading these comments aloud to Jim as we travel back to Brooklyn. It's all very interesting.

#28 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Oh, ick. I do know of a perfectly legitimate-sounding mother-son writing duo (Diane Purkiss and Michael Dowling, who write as Tobias Druitt). But they got an actual book deal with real publishers (Simon and Schuster/Knopf), and the mother's never made any secret of her involvement.

#29 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 01:40 AM:

Helen@ @ #28, not to mention Dick Francis, who collaborated with his son Francis on the last three or four books he published before his death earlier this year.

#30 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 02:29 AM:

The younger Francis was, however, fully grown at the time (and was basically taking his mother's uncredited place as researcher, a disgusting example of sexism in the literary field -- a woman remains uncredited, but the man who takes her place gets on the title page).

#31 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 09:09 AM:

Linkmeister @29, Tom @30: And not just an uncredited researcher -- based on the books written after she died, it's clear that she did a lot of writing and/or editing for her husband. Felix Francis has an entirely different "feel" in the books he's "co-written".

On a tangential note, I hope that Dick and Mary Francis are happy together, wherever they may be. I've spent many a good hour reading their books with great pleasure.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 09:58 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 12... All right, I've got to ask.

What's a Doc Smith doughnut?

#33 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:03 AM:

Doc Smith's PhD was in food chemistry. His most important work in that field apparently involved doughnut mixes.

He was apparently a real executive-level manager in a number of plants over his career. That's probably a much rarer qualification for writing SF than a PhD (in an unrelated field; his SF has little to do with food). Makes me read his descriptions of executives in action a lot more carefully.

#34 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Reminds me of another father/son writing team of some notoriety, the St**nb*rgs. (As James Nicoll would put it, "memetic prophylactic warning".)

#35 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Goodness. A deal worth "thousands" on 23 books must be worth at least $90 a book. Adjusting for inflation, that's pretty much what I managed on the zine my mother photocopied for me in third grade.

I guess good press releases will get you past the sub-editor. (Seriously -- if a paper can fill a bunch of column inches for free, why should they worry about fact?)

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:39 AM:

ddb @ 33... his SF has little to do with food

The PieLark of Space?

#37 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:46 AM:

Serge@36: Doc Smith getting his just desserts, eh?

We can also fit in Chowhounds of IPC.

#38 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 11:27 AM:

In the original French, one reads about les gens de Lentil. Or would that be Lentilshommes?

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 01:00 PM:

In terms of Doc Smith's food novels, you're all forgetting The Galaxy Prime Ribs....

#40 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 01:23 PM:

In #32 Serge asks:

What's a Doc Smith doughnut?

David has explained adequately, I think.

#41 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Ginger @31 -- complete agreement about being grateful for what they produced, despite my curmudgeon stance on the name attached (which may have been more the publisher than the couple, given when he/they started writing).

#42 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Tom @ 41: I'm sure the publisher had a lot to do with the names printed or not printed on the book cover.

Tonight, I really must dig out one of their books to re-read. Which one? Decisions, decisions.

#43 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Ginger @ #42, Nerve. Book number 2 (Dead Cert was the first).

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Possibly, Ginger @42. Given the world in 1962 (when Dead Cert was initially published), I don't think there was a whole lot of room for giving wives the credit they deserved. And I'm not sure when he married; once his name was established, it would have been harder to acknowledge her help (though it didn't stop them acknowledging his son).

There's a full list of his books online at the remarkable fantasticfiction.co.uk. The Sid Halley books (Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief and Under Orders) are very good for showing his evolution as a writer talking about the same character. If you're wanting an overview approach, they'd be quite a good place to go. But there are only a few clunkers and dated works in the set, so pick one you love.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 04:54 PM:

My favorite Dick Francis books are Hot Money, Reflex, Banker, and The Edge. But that's just me.

#46 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 04:55 PM:

I read _Sleigh Ride_ once and found it appalling. All the others, I've read at least twice.

#47 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Depressing 70s Dick Francis is depressing (Sleigh Ride included). In addition to Mary Aileen's list, I'd add Decider.

#48 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Tom @ 44; Wikipedia gives the Francis' marriage date as 1947.

#49 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Linkmeister @43: yes, that one is good. The ones I tend to re-read more frequently are Proof, Banker, The Edge, and then whichever is nearest to my hand as I reach into the bookcase.

I don't remember Slay Ride, so I'll have to go find it.

#50 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:37 PM:

Ginger, no, don't go find Slay Ride! That's the one where the devastated young widow is All Better after a single application of the Magical Healing Cock.

#51 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:44 PM:

TexAnne@50

Strange. I didn't know that roosters had special healing powers.

I suppose there IS a slight possibility you were talking about something else...

#52 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 06:55 PM:

I hope this doesn't mean that if the kid ever writes a real book that this vanity publisher will have his hooks into owning it, or that the contract will force the kid into coming up with more fees for other future projects. But at least the money probably all came from his mom and not his allowance.

#53 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 07:25 PM:

TexAnne @50: That must be why I don't remember it! In any case, I can't find any books just now: I'm currently supporting a cat while he sleeps, and watching the Fifth Doctor with my son. Curses! Foiled again!

#54 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Tom: I saw an interview with Francis when his first book with his son came out and he said his publisher at the time wouldn't let him put his wife on as co-author--I suspect because she wasn't an internationally known ex-Jockey--and he didn't have the clout to force the issue. I gather that after their first book she was more worried about production than credit.

#55 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 08:19 PM:

Michael @ 51:Strange. I didn't know that roosters had special healing powers.

Maybe he fed her chicken soup.

#56 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2010, 10:45 PM:

TexAnne @ 50: Oh, yes. That accidentally was the one that my sweetie read as the introduction to the Francis books. There was considerable consternation that I actually liked these books.

#57 ::: Antongarou ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 01:47 AM:

Michael @51: only if you don't chicken out

#58 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 02:49 AM:

I just pulled out a 1977 issue of my fanzine Khatru to reread the interview with Dick and Mary Francis in there; I hadn't read it in a long, long time. When Dick started on his autobiography (his first book), his publisher arranged a ghost writer for him, but that didn't work out.

So Mary said, "Go on, you do it." She, of course, is a University graduate, and she said she could help me with the spelling or any words I couldn't find, so I started.

They talked a lot about Mary doing the research for the occupations featured in the books. Here's the bit on Flying Finish, about transporting horses on airplanes:

Mary and I flew out to Italy one day with a load of horse. We flew from Gatwick to Milan -- oh, it was a hell of a day. We got up about four to catch the plane at six. Well, we got to the airport at six o'clock, and at that time the horses were just arriving. It was an ordinary passenger aircraft, a DC-4, and they had taken all the seats out, put the horses in, and built a compartment around them as they put them in. It carried nine, I think it was. Mary came along and I asked the pilot if she could take a few photos and things, and he said yes. I went to the British Bloodstock Agency to see if I could arrange this and they said "yes you can, but you'll have to work your passage." So I went as a groom, holding the horses' heads during takeoff and landing. And Mary was there making herself useful, because I couldn't jot down notes; I was too busy. We had three cups of coffee in Milan and we walked all over. The horses were unloaded the other side of the airport and they didn't have any sort of customs problem. If you wanted to smuggle something in you'd have had no trouble at all. The horses were just loaded into their horse boxes and taken straight off the airport. When we had the coffee there was a girl in the trinket store...what was her name?...and she was very like Gabriella, the character in the book. We flew back to Gatwick that afternoon with another six horses, and by the time we unloaded them we were pretty flaked out. The chaps who unloaded them put the seats straight back in, because the DC-4 was going off as a passenger plane the next day.

I see I called Slayride "easily the weakest book." I really liked the early books, especially Nerve, Odds Against and Forfeit. When asked to recommend one, I usually say High Stakes, because the toymaker protagonist is even more appealing than most.

I find the ones with Felix Francis's name on the cover quite acceptable, with only occasional lapses of the normal Francis voice. (I haven't read the new one yet.) I've wondered if the reason for putting Felix's name on them was so he could continue to write them after his father's death. I haven't heard yet if he will or not.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 06:04 AM:

MNichael I @ 51... Time for a rooster shot - aka not going half-cocked?

#60 ::: Pensnest ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 06:25 AM:

I was delighted when my husband found for me a new Dick Francis, not so many years ago—but less delighted when I read it and found that it read like a book by someone who had never before written a book. In fact, I was so indignant that I wrote to the publisher to complain. Can't remember the title as I refused to keep it with the others and it went into the charity bag.

#61 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 08:17 AM:

I'm afraid I've lost my doughnut.

#62 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 09:45 AM:

A Doc Smith doughnut would be pretty inedible by this time, though it would have historic value.

(When I was moving into my first house, many years ago, I bought a box of Timbits (AKA "doughnut holes") among other snacks for the friends who helped me move. I discovered that day-old Timbits were hard and nasty, but that three-day-old Timbits were dry and crunchy and really quite nice. Hey, I was a starving student, doing experimental science.)

#63 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 10:07 AM:

Living as I do in an area within reach of both Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donuts, I may have to do some experimenting of my own, comparing the properties of Timbits and Munchkins.

Timmy's coffee wins hands down, however. For that matter, so does their apple fritter.

#64 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 11:42 AM:

Mark@63: Certainly a careful study of the merits of various apple fritters is an important project.

Luckily, or unluckily, as may be, the work cafeteria actually sells quite good apple fritters (better than Dunkin Donuts grade according to old memories). But the really good place, for that and other "baked goods" of the sort that are actually deep-fried, is the Melo-Glaze bakery over on 28th Ave.

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:18 PM:

I don't remember which Dick Francis book I read, but what put me off them was the lovingly-detailed descriptions of people being beaten up. SO not what I want to read about for fun.

(I had the same problem with the Bond books, only there it was lovingly-detailed descriptions of torture.)

#66 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:30 PM:

Nearly all of Dick Francis's books are high on my list of regularly-rereadable. Blood Sport is about the only one I don't like, although I admit to not having reread or remembered Slay Ride. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite it would probably be The Edge, but might be The Decider. Or Straight. Or Forfeit. Or...

The first one of his I read was For Kicks. My mom suggested it to me as I was transitioning from the kids' section to the adult section of the library. (YA by that title not existing in those days.)

#67 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:32 PM:

The one Dick Francis I know I've read is Proof (which is a slightly off title for a book about a wine merchant).

I recall it somewhat fondly, and I'm pretty sure I read another one or two, but it never became a habit. I could probably find the others on the shelves at home still (this was all apparently before 15-Jun-2001, when I started my booklog; and after 1984 when Proof came out).

If you'd asked me if it was violent I would have said no; I wonder if I'm blipping over parts, or not noticing? (Or it's less violent than what Lee read; but people who write "loving descriptions" of beating people up usually do it consistently.)

#68 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Proof (which is a slightly off title for a book about a wine merchant).

Really?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholic_proof

#69 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:39 PM:

I've seen the violence criticized in Francis. The hero does get beat up at some point in nearly every book. Some are worse than others. In Proof, as I recall, the actual damage to the hero is fairly small but (rot13 for spoiler and ick-factor) gurer'f gur jvar jnvgre jub vf zheqrerq ol jenccvat uvf urnq va cynfgre bs cnevf.

I think of my tolerance for violence as low, but I don't mind those much. Maybe I just skim through those parts. It generally doesn't pervade the books.

#70 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:40 PM:

Dick Francis went through a phase where his hero* always gets very thoroughly beaten-up/tortured near the end of the book. I recall** the torture being passive rather than active (e.g. tied up and left for hours). I think it started from a premise of "see how tough jockeys are." He got over it, fortunately.

*It's always the same hero, though his name may change. But that's quite all right.

**Huh, I guess it's been quite a few years since my last re-read.

#71 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:44 PM:

ajay@68: Yes; proof is a term associated with distilled liquors, and NOT with wine (or beer). That's why "slightly" off.

#72 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Favorite Dick Francis titles: Straight, Proof, Longshot, and To The Hilt, as well as all of the Sid Halley ones.

Does anyone remember the British TV adaptations of the first two Sid Halley ones that were shown on PBS around 1980 or so? Those were what got me started reading them. Sid Halley will always look, to my mind's eye, like the actor with the receding hairline they cast in the role.

The protagonists do get beaten up a fair amount. What makes that work for me is what a good job he does of showing that it actually hurts, and slows a character down, unlike, for example, Parker's Spenser, or Travis McGee, who generally manage to power their way through altercations with more aplomb. That broken ankle in Straight makes me wince even thinking about it. Of course, as an ex-jockey, "effects of injury" came under "write what you know" for him!

I find it very interesting to read the earlier ones now, because they're a window into an England that just doesn't exist any more.

#73 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Francis started out setting his books in racing, naturally. Then it seems as if he got bored with that, and each book is about something else: the market for semiprecious stones, wine, movie-making, wilderness survival. I think he and his wife must have enjoyed researching each new topic. It makes the books a bit like a tutorial.

#74 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 12:59 PM:

janetl@73: The "new topic each book" thing may be why they appeal to SF readers more than most mysteries (though most SF readers seem to read some mystery authors).

If they do; it seems like it to me.

#75 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 01:06 PM:

ddb @71, while the protagonist of Proof is a wine merchant, the plot revolves around a tanker of stolen Scotch, so the title isn't as off as it sounds.

#76 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 02:25 PM:

Aye, many Dick Francis books make good teenage reads. I too was a bit fed up with some of them being rather too formulaic, regarding having a hero hurt during some ridinc accident then being beaten up, i kept wishing for a story where the hero beats other people up for a change. (It would also be a nice rolse reveral and give you a chance to suggest that simply beating people up doesn't solve everything even when done by the good guy)

Does anyone write thrillers like that today? Ones in which you the reader are immersed in a different profession than normal, eg one of the early ones, the hero is a pilot flying people from race course to race course. Not a life most people know much about, and that kind of background that is part of the story plot was usually good to read. The key point is that the specific more unusual profession of the protagonist is important in sorting out the murder mystery in some way, and that seems rather like SF to me, yet I don't know if anyone is writing anything like that these days.

#77 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 04:11 PM:

When the first book came out after Mary Francis's death I read and reviewed it. I thought the rust showed, but it was still okay. I'm not as enamored of Silks, which was the one before Even Money, the last published before Dick's death. Crossfire is now out; I'm number #51 on the waitlist at my library.

The books were automatic hardcover buys for me (or my family; they always seemed to get published just in time for my birthday) until Silks. I read it from the library and decided I could wait till the PB version came out. Even Money is about a bookmaker; Francis went back to teaching his readers about an occupation most of them know little of.

#78 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 04:30 PM:

I thought the other collaborations with Felix were okay, although not the best, but Crossfire just didn't do it for me. It will be interesting to see what others think.

#79 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 05:08 PM:

A Dick Francis point that many authors overlook: If you get in a fight, people get hurt, probably including you. If you get hurt you aren't OK by the next scene, or the next week. (I think people have gotten less realistic with consequences as Americans have less first-hand experience with getting beaten up. I may have mentioned this theory before.) There was some show I partially saw where a guy with a broken collarbone did several things involving moving and/or using the arm. Broke my suspension of disbelief.

In an unrelated event, I taught myself to tie my shoes one-handed after reading the first couple Dick Francis books. To prove it could be done. If I ever make it to a Gathering of Light, I can probably still tie a shoe in under a minute one-handed.

#80 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 08:00 PM:

Just finished reading Crossfire. It struck me as highly derivative - It felt like, if I'd read his books more recently I could identify that this plot device came from book X and this other one from book Y,... enjoyable, but I'm glad I borrowed it rather than bought it in hardback. I'm now off to re-read his earlier books - strictly as research, of course.

#81 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 09:26 PM:

I have no major issues with Felix coauthoring; the writing just feels different in some intrinsic way. It's not the same voice telling me the story.

#82 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 09:29 PM:

guthrie @76 Does anyone write thrillers like that today? Ones in which you the reader are immersed in a different profession than normal

Actually, the closest I can think of fall under romantic suspense rather than thriller. Some of Nora Roberts's single title books, for example. There are others, but I'm blanking on them.

#83 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 10:33 PM:

OtterB @ #82, "Some of Nora Roberts's single title books"

And if you read the Amazon reviews of her latest one, for example, you'll find that they're split between "how interesting SAR dog training is" and "TMI! I don't care! Get to the romance!"

#84 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 11:16 PM:

Karin Kallmaker tends to write standalone books with various professions described, although her books are aimed at the lesbian market. Some of them are well-enough written that they could appeal to non-lesbians. She's shown the life of a professional jazz singer, and a chef, along with geologists, businesswomen, and artists.

#85 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2010, 11:44 PM:

What did someone say about some people having trouble ending a conversation?

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/four-levels-of-social-entrapment.html

#86 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2010, 11:44 PM:

Oops. Above comment was intended for open thread.

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