Shattered, p.1Dick Francis
Table of Contents
"FRANCIS’S FORMULA IS MADE FOR EXCITEMENT.”
—The New York Times
“ONE OF HIS BEST BOOKS.”
—Dayton Daily News
After his friend is killed in a horse-racing accident, up-and-coming glass artisan Gerard Logan finds himself embroiled in a deadly search for a stolen videotape. His friend had it—and now some very bad people want it. People who think it’s now in Logan’s possession.
Believing the tape contains priceless information, a vicious group of criminals sets out to get the answers out of him in any way possible. To survive, Gerard will have to uncover the truth about his friend’s death while keeping a good distance between himself and his pursuers.
Because if they catch him, they will most surely break him ...
“FRANCIS HAS A WINNER.”—The Chattanooga Times
“SHATTERED IS VINTAGE FRANCIS.”
—The Knoxville News-Sentinel
RAVE REVIEWS FOR DICK FRANCIS
“[THE] MASTER OF CRIME FICTION
AND EQUINE THRILLS.”
“It’s either hard or impossible to read Mr. Francis without growing pleased with yourself: not only the thrill of vicarious competence imparted by the company of his heroes, but also the lore you collect as you go, feel like a field trip with the perfect guide.”—The New York Times Book Review
“One of the most reliable mystery writers working today ... Francis’s secret weapons are his protagonists. They are the kind of people you want for friends.”
—Detroit News and Free Press
“[Francis] has the uncanny ability to turn out simply plotted yet charmingly addictive mysteries.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A rare and magical talent ... who never writes the same story twice ... Few writers have maintained such a high standard of excellence for as long as Dick Francis.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Few things are more convincing than Dick Francis at a full gallop.” —ChicagoTribune
“Francis just gets better and better ... It can’t be as easy as he makes it look, or all mystery writers would be as addictive.”
—The Charlotte Observer
“After writing dozens of thrillers, Dick Francis always retains a first-novel freshness.”—The Indianapolis Star
“He writes about the basic building blocks of life—obligation, honor, love, courage, and pleasure. Those discussions come disguised in adventure novels so gripping that they cry out to be read in one gulp—then quickly reread to savor the details skipped in the first gallop through the pages.”
“Dick Francis stands head and shoulders above the rest.”
Fiction by Dick Francis
WIN, PLACE, OR SHOW
A JOCKEY’S LIFE
THE SPORT OF QUEENS
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead. business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with G. P. Putnam’s Sons
G. P. Putnam’s Sons edition / September 2000
Jove edition / September 2001
Berkley edition / March 2005
Copyright © 2000 by Dick Francis.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-17493-7
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother,
in celebration of her 100th birthday
with endless gratitude,
love and every good wish, from Dick Francis.
My thanks also
Stephen Zawistowski, glassblower
Stephen Spiro, professor of respiratory medicine
Tanya Williams, West Mercia Police
Matthew Francis, my grandson,
for the title
and to my son, Felix,
Four of us drove together to Cheltenham races on the day that Martin Stukely died there from a fall in a steeplechase.
It was December 31, the eve of the year 2000. A cold midwinter morning. The world approaching the threshold of the future.
Martin himself, taking his place behind the steering wheel of his BMW, set off before noon without premonition, collecting his three passengers from their Cotswold Hills bases on his way to his afternoon’s work. A jockey of renown, he had confidence and a steady heart.
By the time he reached my sprawling house on the hillside above the elongated tourist-attracting village of Broadway, the air in his spacious car swirled richly full of smoke from his favorite cigar, the Montecristo No. 2, his substitute for eating. At thirty-four he was spending longer and longer in a sauna each day, but was all the same gradually losing the metabolic battle against weight.
Genes had given him a well-balanced frame in general, and an Italian mother in particular had passed on a love of cooking, and vivacity.
He quarreled incessantly with Bon-Bon, his rich, plump and talkative wife, and on the whole ignored his four small children, often frowning as
He picked me up last on that fateful Friday morning, as I lived nearest to Cheltenham’s racetrack.
Already on board, and by his side, sat Priam Jones, the trainer whose horses he regularly rode. Priam was expert at self-aggrandizement but not quite as good as he believed at knowing when a horse in his care had come to a performance peak. That day’s steeplechaser, Tallahassee, was, according to my friend Martin on the telephone, as ready as he would ever be to carry off the day’s gold trophy, but Priam Jones, smoothing his white late-middle-age thinning hair, told the horse’s owner in a blasé voice that Tallahassee might still do better on softer ground.
Lounging back beside me on the rear seat, with the tip of one of Martin’s cigars glowing symmetrically to ash, Tallahassee’s owner, Lloyd Baxter, listened without noticeable pleasure, and I thought Priam Jones would have done better to keep his premature apologies in reserve.
It was unusual for Martin to be the one who drove Tallahassee’s owner and trainer anywhere. Normally he took other jockeys, or me alone: but Priam Jones from arrogance had just wrecked his own car in a stupid rash of flat tires, thanks to his having tried to ignore head-on a newly installed deterrent no-parking set of rising teeth. It was the town’s fault, he insisted. He would sue.
Priam had taken it for granted, Martin told me crossly, that he—Martin—would do the driving, and would not only take Priam himself but would also chauffeur the horse’s owner, who was staying overnight with Priam for the Cheltenham meeting, having flown down from the north of England to the local Staverton airfield in a small rented air taxi.
I disliked Lloyd Baxter as thoroughly as he disliked me. Martin had warned me of the Priam tire situation (“Keep your sarcastic tongue behind your splendid teeth”) and had begged me also to swamp the grumpy, dumpy millionaire owner with anesthetizing charm in advance, in case Priam Jones’s fears materialized and the horse drew a blank.
I saw Martin’s face grinning at me in the rearview mirror as he listened to me sympathize with the flat tires. He more than paid any debt he owed me by ferrying me about when he could, as I’d lost my driver’s license for a year through scorching at ninety-five miles an hour around the Oxford bypass (fourth ticket for speeding) to take him and his broken leg to see his point-of-death old retired gardener. The gardener’s heart had then thumped away insecurely for six further weeks—one of life’s little ironies. My loss of license now had three months to run.
The friendship between Martin and myself, unlikely at first sight, had sprung fully grown in an instant four or more years ago, result of a smile crinkling around his eyes, echo, I gathered, of my own.
We had met in the jury room of the local crown court, chosen for jury duty to hear a fairly simple case of domestic murder. The trial lasted two and a half days. Over mineral water afterwards, I’d learned about the tyranny of weight. Though my life had nothing to do with horses, or his with the heat and chemistry of my own days, we shared, perhaps, the awareness of the physical ability that we each needed for success in our trade.
In the jury room Martin had asked with merely polite curiosity, “What do you do for a living?”
“I blow glass.”
“You do what?”
“I make things of glass. Vases, ornaments, goblets. That sort of thing.”
I smiled at his astonishment. “People do, you know. People have made things of glass for thousands of years.”
“Yes, but...” he considered, “you don’t look like someone who makes ornaments. You look ... well ... tough.”
I was four years younger than he and three inches taller, and probably equal in muscles.
“I’ve made horses,” I said mildly. “Herds of them.”
“The Crystal Stud Cup,” he asked, identifying one of flat racing’s more elaborate prizes. “Did you make that?”
“Not that one, no.”
“Well ... Do you have a name? Like, say, Baccarat?”
I smiled lopsidedly. “Not so glamorous. It’s Logan, Gerard Logan.”
“Logan Glass.” He nodded, no longer surprised. “You have a place on the High Street in Broadway, side by side with all those antique shops. I’ve seen it.”
I nodded. “Sales and workshop.”
He hadn’t seemed to take any special notice, but a week later he’d walked into my display gallery, spent an intense and silent hour there, asked if I’d personally made all the exhibits (mostly) and offered me a ride to the races. As time went by we had become comfortably accustomed to each other’s traits and faults. Bon-Bon used me as a shield in battle and the children thought me a bore because I wouldn’t let them near my furnace.
For half the races that day at Cheltenham things went as normal. Martin won the two-mile hurdle race by six lengths and Priam Jones complained that six lengths was too far. It would ruin the horse’s position in the handicap.
Martin shrugged, gave an amused twist to his eyebrows and went into the changing room to put on Lloyd Baxter’s colors of black and white chevrons, pink sleeves and cap. I watched the three men in the parade ring, owner, trainer and jockey, as they took stock of Tallahassee walking purposefully around in the hands of his groom. Tallahassee stood at odds of six to four with the bookmakers for the Coffee Forever Gold Trophy: the clear favorite.
Lloyd Baxter (ignoring his trainer’s misgivings) had put his money on the horse, and so had I.
It was at the last fence of all that Tallahassee uncharacteristically tangled his feet. Easily ahead by seven lengths, he lost his concentration, hit the roots of the unyielding birch and turned a somersault over his rider, landing his whole half-ton mass upside down with the saddle tree and his withers crushing the rib cage of the man beneath.
The horse fell at the peak of his forward-to-win acceleration and crashed down at thirty or more miles an hour. Winded, he lay across the jockey for inert moments, then rocked back and forwards vigorously in his struggle to rise again to his feet.
The fall and its aftermath looked truly terrible from where I watched on the stands. The roar of welcome for a favorite racing home to a popular win was hushed to a gasp, to cries, to an endless anxious murmur. The actual winner passed the post without his due cheers, and a thousand pairs of binoculars focused on the unmoving black and white chevrons flat on the green December grass.
The racetrack doctor, though instantly attending him from his following car, couldn’t prevent the fast-gathering group of paramedics and media people from realizing that Martin Stukely, though still semi-conscious, was dying before their eyes. They glimpsed the blood sliding frothily out of the jockey’s mouth, choking him as the sharp ends of broken ribs tore his lungs apart. They described it, cough by groan, in their news reports.
The doctor and paramedics loaded Martin just alive into the waiting ambulance and as they set off to the hospital they worked desperately with transfusions and oxygen, but quietly, before the journey ended, the jockey lost his race.
Priam, not normally a man of emotion, wept without shame as he later collected Martin’s belongings, including his car keys, from the changing room. Sniffing, blowing his nose, accompanied by Lloyd Baxter, who looked annoyed rather than grief-stricken, Priam Jones offered to return me to my place of business in Broadway, though not to my home in the hills, as he intended to go in the opposite direction from there, to see Bon-Bon, to give her comfort.
I asked if he would take me on with him to see Bon-Bon. He refused. Bon-Bon wanted Priam alone, he said. She had said so, devastated, on the telephone.
Lloyd Baxter, Priam added, would now also be off-loaded at Broadway. Priam had got him the last ava
Lloyd Baxter glowered at the world, at his trainer, at me, at fate. He should, he thought, have won the Cup. He had been robbed. Though his horse was unharmed, his feelings for his dead jockey seemed to be resentment, not regret.
As Priam, shoulders drooping, and Baxter, frowning heavily, set off ahead of us towards the car park, Martin’s valet hurried after me, calling my name. I stopped, and turned towards him, and into my hands he thrust the lightweight racing saddle that, strapped firmly to Tallahassee’s back, had helped to deal out damage and death.
The stirrups, with the leathers, were folded over the saddle plate, and were kept in place by the long girth wound around and around. The sight of the girth-wrapped piece of professional equipment, like my newly dead mother’s Hasselblad camera, bleakly rammed into one’s consciousness the gritty message that their owners would never come back. It was Martin’s empty saddle that set me missing him painfully.
Eddie, the valet, was elderly, bald and, in Martin’s estimation, hardworking and unable to do wrong. He turned to go back to the changing room but then stopped, fumbled in the deep front pocket of the apron of his trade and, producing a brown paper-wrapped package, called after me to wait.
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