A blue green world: A review of Reflex by Dick Francis


A few days before I picked up Reflex by Dick Francis, I dreamed about cyan. At first, I did not know what cyan was. My first thought? Something having to do with the USSR…that was Cyrillic. Then I started reading Reflex.


Dick Francis as a writer that wrote from inside knowledge of the British horse racing world as a jockey. Reflex is the 22nd novel he wrote in the series. Besides the world of racing horses, Francis explored in-depth other areas. In Reflex, it is film photography. Remember the rolls of Kodak film? filmProducts_440x120It is the world of professional photographers and darkrooms. It is where cyan comes in. Dreaming in technicolor, I guess.

Philip Nore, the protagonist, is a jockey who stumbles on a blackmailing scheme engineered by a racing photographer who dies in the beginning. The death looks like an accident — car crashing into a tree after the driver falls asleep. Then, a series of burglaries, an assault, and a burning house occur. All to get rid of damning pictures. Sounds like the Watergate burglars doesn’t it?

As usual with mysteries and thrillers, there are other plots intermingled. Nore’s grandmother, best described as the wicked witch of the west’s mother, asks, read conjoles, Philip into finding a long-lost sister, though Nore never knew he had a sister. From there, you get into the world of drugs via Philip’s mother.

I usually don’t review the mass market mysteries and thrillers but Reflex is a novel for our times. Halfway through the story a reference to a medical use for marijuana popped up. It hasn’t been six months since the Georgia General Assembly was considering passage of a bill enabling the use of weed for medicinal purposes and here it pops up in a book dating to 1982 — asthma.

Then, there is the conclusion of Nore’s story — blackmailing to get rid of a bigger evil — heroin, the new meth for a new generation — or rather same song, second verse. Heroin is not new– just reformulated.