Tim Ekaterin’s parents were rich… up to a point. Enjoying a privileged upbringing of comfort and ease, Tim’s memories included lavish vacations and going to the races. “I had been their only child and they’d given me a very good childhood, to the extent that when I thought of holidays it was of yachts on warms seas or Christmas in the Alps.” However, by the time Tim’s father passes away, he and his wife had lost millions of pounds through gambling. “In twenty-five years, it seemed, my mother had gambled away the best part of half a million pounds; all gone on horses, fast and slow.”
The logical choice for Tim, of course, was to join his grandfather’s prestigious banking firm… or was it?
Tim approves a loan of five million pounds to finance the purchase of the famous racing stallion, Sandcastle, for the purpose of breeding high-performing race horses (an unprecedented loan…who would risk such an amount on a horse?) But when the foals begin to appear with birth defects, it is apparent that someone is interfering and bent on sabotage.
This novel, like almost all of Dick Francis’ writing, *does* involve the world of horses and racing, although not exclusively. Tim will save one of the characters, a ‘faith-healer’ of sorts (of horses! is there such a thing?) from a knife attack, and later we find Tim risking his own safety to rescue a runaway horse. In between, he navigates the always- volatile -and -unpredictable world of finance and banking, stumbles upon evidence in a murder of a popular veterinarian, and saves a stud farm from almost certain failure.
The author brings home to the reader with fresh, illuminating insight, the undeniable tragedy that murder brings: “I’d thought of her young life once as being a clear stretch of sand waiting for footprints, and now there would be none, now only a blank, chopping end to all she could have been and done, to all the bright love she had scattered around her.”
“Banker” is not a novel easily categorized. Is it a murder mystery? Partly. Banker is also a novel about the world of finance, horse-racing and breeding (not too explicit thankfully!), and includes villains, heroes, and plain, everyday folk just hoping to ‘make it’ in their world.
The author is not only talented at writing suspenseful mysteries, he is also good at creating believable characters. “Banker” is both fast-paced and intriguing and I was rooting all the way for Tim’s success.