Fiction: “Hot Money” by Dick Francis

Hot Money has always been one of my favorite titles from Dick Francis’s library. I was about twenty pages in when I boarded my flight out to Phoenix, and I finished it ten minutes after boarding my flight to Ontario. And that’s with taking a couple of naps in-between.

This novel’s plot involves the Pembroke family. The patriarch, Malcolm Pembroke, has been married five times and practically each marraige resulted in children. The narrator is Malcolm’s middle son, Ian, the only son of Wife #2, Joyce. Ian and Malcolm have not spoken for three years at the book’s opening, due to a large argument around Wife #5, Moira. Ian did not like Moira and thought she was marrying Malcolm only for his money. Malcolm was blind with love (and, possibly, the prospect of a wife thirty years younger than himself), and didn’t want to hear his son’s opinion, so he slapped him upside the head and refused to acknowledge his existence.

Out of the blue one day, Malcolm calls Ian and asks to meet him at the Newcastle yearling sales. (This book’s relationship to the racing world is that Ian is an amateur jockey.) On a whim, Malcolm buys the most expensive yearling on sale, right out from under the noses of, like, five other high bidders. Oh, I should probably mention that Malcolm is a gold arbitrageur: he buys and sells gold so cannily he is worth close to hundreds of millions of dollars.

So why did Malcolm call Ian? Well, Moira’s been murdered, and while Malcolm (and Ian) have alibis, now Malcolm is experiencing attacks on his own life. Including almost being run down after leaving Newcastle with Ian.

Over the course of the novel, Malcolm and Ian work together to repair the rift between them, and as they search for the murderer amongst their family, they come to know each other better.

Grade for Hot Money: 3.5 stars

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