May 19, 1980 12:00 PM

by Dick Francis

Sid Halley, the tough jockey from an earlier Francis novel, has lost his hand in a racing accident and now wears a bionic one. He has also become a private detective, and it seems as if everyone at the track is trying to hire him. Why are the best horses of one wealthy owner fading out after promising starts? Why can’t the head of track security solve his staff problems? Why does it fall to Halley to get his ex-wife out of a jam that could send her to jail? As always in a Francis mystery, the action is fast and the villains intriguing. This time the denouement is better than usual. Three TV mysteries based on Francis’ Odds Against, with Mike Gwilym playing Halley, were shown on PBS last month. This new novel will also make a diverting film. (Harper & Row, $9.95)

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