(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Decider shows Francis at the peak of his form. There is plenty of action and suspense, but his complexity of characterization explains why critics regard him as a serious writer. Like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard, and John le Carré, Francis has transcended his genre by treating it with the same scrupulous care customarily given to mainstream fiction. Francis has been honored by fellow detective-fiction writers because he has helped elevate their profession for critics and the public.

The amateur-detective, first-person narrator of Decider is Lee Morris, an architect who happens to own a small interest in the historic old Stratton Park racecourse. The major shareholders are the self-willed, eccentric, outspoken, snobbish members of an aristocratic family who have conflicting ideas about what should be done with the facility.

Francis’s heroes invariably face family problems or personal handicaps that affect their behavior. In Decider, the hero endures a loveless marriage, cares for five rambunctious children, and copes with the problems caused by the Stratton family. His concern for his children’s safety, his Achilles’ heel, almost gets him killed.

Interestingly, Francis’s worldview has widened over the years, with his increasing maturity, fame, and prosperity and with the world itself changing since 1962. Later novels such as Decider are full of Americanisms, such as...

(The entire section is 454 words.)