John Kendall, a free-lance writer, is literally freezing and starving in a garret. To get through an English winter, he accepts a job writing the biography of crusty, egotistical Tremayne Vickers, one of the most famous figures in the world of British horse racing. The job includes free room and board at Tremayne’s Berkshire estate. Kendall knows nothing about racehorses; however, he is an athletic outdoors man who has authored six survival manuals, and he quickly adapts to this new environment. He actually begins riding some of the thoroughbreds on training sessions.
The nude body of one of Tremayne’s young female horse handlers, who disappeared before Kendall’s arrival, is discovered in some nearby woods. The dogged Detective Chief Inspector Doone drags Kendall into the case, knowing that the perceptive young writer has become privy to much of what is going on in Tremayne’s household. There are a number of suspects; however, the murderer might have gone undetected if he had not tried to cover his tracks by attempting two more diabolical murders.
Dick Francis, one of the world’s most successful mystery writers, was a champion jockey who rode more than 350 winners before an accident forced him to retire. His previous twenty-eight novels have all been set against racing backgrounds, and he continues to amaze the literary profession with his ability to draw new material from the same source. His many fans will not be disappointed by the ending to LONGSHOT, which features descriptions of the kind of excruciating suffering they have come to expect from this author. One of the reasons for his popularity is that he resembles Ernest Hemingway in having a great gusto for action and adventure; this vigorous attitude toward life comes out in Francis’ writing, particularly in his descriptions of horses. The sheer physicality of a Dick Francis novel is in striking contrast to the stereotypical British mystery novel in which the characters tend to sit around conversing and sipping tea.