My first Dick Francis novel. I had avoided him for many years because he is always described as "that guy who writes about horse-racing" but that's misleading. In this case at least [disclaimer: I've since read [book:The Edge|8527], in which horses information is more pervasive] the racing provides the initial plot point and some color, but isn't the focus.
A wealthy old woman, recently diagnosed with a fatal illness, wants to find out why her horses are suddenly performing so poorly -- she wants to resolve this before leaving the horses to her heir. Rather than hiring a detective, she asks a close friend with a background in the stables to investigate. The friend, Edward Lincoln, is a successful actor and reasonably bright guy but knows nothing about solving mysteries, or about South Africa, where he is being sent. However, he is a pleasant protagonist to spend time with.
If you are the sort of reader who likes mysteries for the puzzle, don't start your Francis-reading with this one. It's more of a thriller, with only Lincoln's lack of detective skills keeping him in suspense. Whodunit's so clear that my only doubt was whether Francis was tricking me. I would recommend this more to those interested in psychology and character interactions.