COMEBACK constitutes Dick Francis’ thirtieth mystery novel involving thoroughbred horses. Francis has been writing best-selling mysteries for a great number of years, and COMEBACK ranks with his best. Peter Darwin, a diplomat with the British Foreign Office who is still in his thirties, decides to vacation in Miami after leaving his post in Tokyo, Japan. Darwin comes to the rescue of an English couple who are being robbed. Out of concern for their well-being and taking the opportunity to visit his childhood district, Darwin accompanies his new friends to the town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.
Upon arrival in Cheltenham, the couple go about making the arrangements for their daughter’s wedding while Darwin reacquaints himself with the local environment. His vacation time is disturbed when he becomes involved in an attempt to rescue the reputation of the veterinary surgeon Ken McClure, the fiance of his friends’ daughter. Darwin must use all of his diplomatic skills to piece together the puzzle. A number of valuable thoroughbred horses had died while under the care of McClure, and he was at a loss as to what could have caused their deaths.
Francis is a master at telling a good story. COMEBACK is a tightly constructed mystery, and each of the characters is finely etched. The suspense builds to an ever-increasing pitch until even Darwin must fear for his own safety. As COMEBACK pushes closer to its climax, Darwin must pry into the past and sort out rumor from hard truth. In so doing, he is able to set many bad memories to rest— both for himself and for those close to him. There is danger at every turn as Darwin comes to the only conclusion that is possible. Francis has created a likable and savvy protagonist. In COMEBACK, readers of the mystery genre now have another excellent example of the form from one of its undisputed masters.