Even Money (Francis Thriller)

3.74 avg rating
( 2,810 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780141048734: Even Money (Francis Thriller)

Even Money is the gripping Dick Francis novel by Dick Francis and Felix Francis. Royal Ascot's first day, and bookmaker Ned Talbot watches helplessly as a string of favourites come in. With the punters totting up their winnings, he counts his losses. Then an old man steps forward with a very different claim. The father Ned never knew - long ago believed killed in a car crash - is standing before him. Barely an hour later, Ned's newly-found father is dying in Ascot's car park. Stabbed by an unknown assailant, he warns Ned 'be very careful'. But of whom? Of what? Ned races to discover the truth behind his father's disappearance and sudden reappearance. It's not just money on the line now. It's lives. From Felix Francis and Dick Francis, the bestselling co-authors of Dead Heat comes Even Money, the latest Dick Francis novel. Packed with all the hair-raising suspense and excitement readers know and love from Dick Francis, Even Money is the most thrilling yet. Praise for the Dick Francis novels: 'The Francis flair is clear for all to see' Daily Mail 'Spare, efficient and unflashy . . . inexorably draws you in' Daily Telegraph 'The master of suspense and intrigue' Country Life 'Still the master' Racing Post Dick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories and the biography of Lester Piggott. Dick Francis died in February, 2010, at the age of 89, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time. Felix Francis is the younger of Dick's two sons. Since 2006, Felix has taken a more significant role in the writing, first with Dead Heat and then increasingly with the bestsellers, Silks and Even Money. Crossfire is the fourth novel of this father-and-son collaboration.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Felix Francis studied Physics and Electronics at London University and then embarked upon a seventeen-year career teaching Advanced Level Physics. Felix Francis is the younger son of crime writer and National Hunt jockey Dick Francis, and over the past forty years Felix assisted Dick with both the research and the writing of many of his novels. Felix's love of racing, writing talent, and knowledge and experience as a physics teacher was invaluable in the father-and-son writing partnership. Felix has written ten 'Francis' novels, the first, Under Orders, published in 2006. Then followed Dead Heat, Silks, Even Money, Crossfire, Gamble, Bloodline, Refusal, Damage and Felix's tenth novel, Front Runner.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Victoria, Australia

BOOKMAKERS’S ODDS AS USED ON BRITISH RACETRACKS

1
 

I sank deeper into depression as the Royal Ascot crowd I enthusiastically cheered home another short-priced winning favorite. To be fair, it wasn’t clinical depression—I knew all about that—but it was pretty demoralizing, just the same.

I asked myself yet again what I was doing here. I had never really enjoyed coming to Ascot, especially for these five days in June. It was usually much too hot to be wearing morning dress, or else it rained, and I would get soaked. I preferred the informality of my usual haunts, the smaller steeplechase tracks of the Midlands. But my grandfather, who had started the family business, had always used the fact that we stood at the Royal Meeting as one of our major marketing tools. He claimed that it gave us some form of respectability, something he had always craved.

We were bookmakers. Pariahs of the racing world. Disliked by all, and positively hated by many, including large numbers of those whose very livelihoods depended on gambling. I had discovered over the years that my clients were never my friends. Whereas City investors might develop a close relationship with their stockbrokers, punters never wanted to be seen socializing with their bookies. Most of my regulars didn’t even know my name, nor did they want  to. I suppose that was fair. I didn’t know most of their names either. We were simply participants in transactions where each of us was trying to bankrupt the other. I suppose it was a situation not really likely to engender mutual respect.

“Score on seven,” said a tall, top-hatted young man thrusting a banknote towards me. I glanced up at our board to check the odds we were offering on horse number seven.

“Twenty pounds on number seven at eleven-to-two,” I said, taking his note and adding it to the wad of others in my left hand.

A small printer in front of me whirred and disgorged a ticket that I handed to the man. He snatched it from me and moved quickly away into the throng as if he didn’t want to be seen fraternizing with the enemy. His place in front of me was taken by a short, portly gentleman whose multicolored vest was fighting a losing battle against his expansive stomach. He was one of my regular Royal Ascot customers. I knew him only as A.J., but I had no idea what the A.J. stood for.

“Hundred on Silverstone to win,” he wheezed at me, holding out some folded twenty-pound notes in his chubby fingers.

“Hundred on two at even money,” I said, taking his cash and checking the amount. Another betting slip appeared out of the small printer as if by magic, and I passed it over. “Good luck, A.J.,” I said to him, not really meaning it.

“Huh?” he said, somewhat surprised by my comment.

“Good luck,” I repeated.

“Thanks,” he wheezed, and departed.

In the good old days, when bookmaking was an art rather than a science, every transaction was written down in “the book” by an assistant. Nowadays, as in most things, it was on a computer that everything was recorded. The same computer that printed the betting slips.

It kept a running tally of all the bets that we had taken, and also  constantly updated our profit or liability for every possible outcome of the race. Gone were the days when it was down to the gut reaction of the bookmaker to decide when and by how much to change the prices we displayed on our fancy electronic board. Now the computer decided. Bookmaking was no longer by instinct, it was by fractions.

When I had started working for my grandfather I had been his “runner.” It had been my job to take cash from his hand and use it to back a horse with other bookmakers, a horse on which he had taken some large bets, in order to spread his risk. If the horse was beaten, he didn’t make so much, but, conversely, if it won, he didn’t lose so much either. Now even that was done by computer, betting and laying horses on the Internet exchanges, even during the actual running of the race. Somehow, the romance and the fun had disappeared.

Just as mobile phones have caused the demise of the tic-tac men, computer gambling was now killing off any bookmakers with personality who were prepared to back their hunches. And I wasn’t at all sure if it was good for the punters, or for racing.

“Twenty pounds, horse two,” said another man taking the plunge.

“Twenty on two at evens,” I repeated, not so much for the man in front of me, more for Luca Mandini, my assistant, to enter the bet on his computer.

Luca was my magician, my Internet whiz kid with a razor-sharp mathematical brain who stood right behind me. His fingers tapped his keyboard, and the betting slip duly appeared from the printer.

Without Luca, I was sure I would have given up by now, forced out by the relentless bullyboy tactics of the big bookmaking firms who did all they could to squeeze the profit out of the small independents. It was the same in the grocery trade, where the big supermarkets used their muscle to force the small shops to close.  They didn’t necessarily do it on purpose; they just did it in their never-ending drive for bottom-line figures to satisfy the expectations of some faceless group of shareholders. I was the sole shareholder in my business, and I felt the pain.

I lived in daily fear that Luca would be enticed away from me by some other outfit, maybe one of those big firms who, it seemed, would stop at nothing to put the likes of me out of business in their greedy quest to capture a larger share of the betting market.

I took the slip from the printer and handed it to the man standing patiently in front of me.

“Are you Teddy Talbot?” he asked.

“Who wants to know?” I asked him back while looking beyond for my next customer.

“I know your grandfather,” said the man, ignoring my question.

My grandfather’s name had indeed been Teddy Talbot, and it was his name that was still prominently displayed above our prices board next to me. The slogan actually read TRUST TEDDY TALBOT, as if the extra word might somehow encourage punters to bet with us rather than the next man.

“My grandfather’s dead,” I said, still looking beyond him and hoping that he would move away. He was disrupting my business.

“Oh,” he said. “When did he die?”

I looked down at him from my lofty position on a foot-high metal platform. He was gray haired, in his late fifties or early sixties, and wearing a cream linen suit over a light blue shirt that was open at the neck. I envied the coolness of his attire. “Look,” I said, “I’m busy. If you want to talk, come back later—after the last. Now, please move aside.”

“Oh,” he said again. “Sorry.”

He moved away, but only a short distance, from where he stood and watched me. I found it quite disconcerting.

“Weighed in,” announced someone over the public-address system.

A lady in a straw hat came up and held out a slip to me. I took it from her. TRUST TEDDY TALBOT was printed across the top, as it was on all our betting slips. It was a winning ticket from the previous race, the first of rather too many. Nowadays, the potential win amount had to be printed on the slip, so I scanned the details and paid her out for her win, tearing the slip in half and placing the bits into a hopper to my left. The transaction was wordless—no communication was necessary.

A line of winning-ticket holders was forming in front of me.

Betsy, Luca’s girlfriend, came and stood on my left. She paid out the winners while I took some of their winnings back as new bets on the next race. Luca scanned his screen and adjusted the prices on our board according to the bets I took and also the bets and lays he made on the Internet gambling exchanges via his computer behind me. It was like a balancing act, comparing potential gains against potential losses, always trying to keep both possibilities within acceptable ranges.

It was my surname on our board, and I was the handler of the punters’ cash, but, in truth, it was Luca with his computer who was the real bookmaker, betting online and setting our board prices to always try to keep our predicted return greater than one hundred percent, as indicated on his screen. Anything over a hundred percent was called the “overround” and represented profit, less than a hundred indicated loss. Our aim was to keep the overround at about nine percent, but all the mathematics relied on us taking bets in the correct proportions for our odds, something we tried to ensure by continually adjusting our prices. However, the punters didn’t always cooperate with our plans, so Luca tried his best to compensate by betting and laying on the Internet.

The computer was both our best friend and our worst enemy.  We liked to think that it was our slave, doing the jobs we gave it more efficiently than we could have done them ourselves. But, in reality, the computer was the master, and we were its slaves. The analysis and figures on its screen controlled our decisions without question. Technology, rather than insight, was now the idol we worshipped.

And so our day progressed. I became hotter and hotter, both over and under the collar, as the sun broke through the veil of cloud, while heavily backed, short-priced winners continued to make it a great day for the punters while pushing down our percentage return into the red.

I didn’t need to wear my stifling morning suit, as our pitch wasn’t actually in the Royal Enclosure. But we were close to the enclosure rail, in a prime position, and many of my clients wore the coveted name badges of those admitted to the inner sanctum. Besides, my grandfather had always worn formal dress at this meeting, and, since my eighteenth birthday, he had insisted that I did so too. At least he hadn’t decreed that we should have top hats as well.

I had never in fact applied to be admitted to the Royal Enclosure because there were no bookmaker pitches on that side of the fence. I did sometimes wonder if being a bookmaker would somehow disqualify one from admittance, like being a divorcée had once done.

Another favorite won the fifth race to huge cheers from the packed grandstand. I sighed audibly.

“It’s not so bad,” said Luca in my ear. “I had most of that covered.”

“Good,” I said over my shoulder.

The string of short-priced winners had forced us to try to limit our losses by adjusting down the offered prices on our board. Unlike in a shop, punters went in search of the highest prices as  that represented a better return for their bets, provided, of course, they won. So lower prices meant that we didn’t do as much business. Even our regular clients tended to go elsewhere, chasing the fractionally better odds offered by others—there was absolutely no loyalty amongst punters.

The man in the linen suit still stood about five yards away and watched.

“Hold the fort,” I said to Betsy. “I need a pee.”

“Will do,” she said.

I walked across to the man.

“What exactly do you want?” I demanded.

“Nothing,” he said defensively. “I was just watching.”

“Why?” I demanded again.

“No reason,” he said.

“Then why don’t you go and watch someone else instead?” I said forcefully.

“I’m not doing any harm,” he almost wailed.

“Maybe not, but I don’t like it,” I said. “So go away. Now.”

I walked past him and into the grandstand in search of the Gents’.

When I returned, he’d gone.

“Thanks,” I said to Betsy as I again stood up on the platform.

“Come on,” I shouted at the small crowd in front of me. “Who wants a wager?” I glanced up at the board. “Eleven-to-four the field.”

There were a few takers but business was slow. As every race seemed to be a losing one from our point of view, it was probably just as well. At this rate, the more business we did, the more we lost.

However, there was some respite when the last race of the day was won by a twenty-to-one outsider, the favorite having been boxed in against the rails until it was too late.

“That saved our bacon,” said Luca with a broad grin.

“Saved your job, you mean,” I said, smiling back at him.

“In your dreams,” he replied.

In my nightmares, more like.

“So what’s the total?” I asked him.

In the good old days, it was easy to tell how we had done simply by the size of the wad of banknotes in my pocket, but these days we also had to consider our credit card balance with the Internet exchanges.

“Down fifteen hundred and sixty-two,” he said with certainty, consulting his machine.

“Could be worse,” I said, but I couldn’t actually remember a previous first-day Tuesday at Royal Ascot when we had lost money.

“Sure could,” he said. “If the favorite had won the last, we would have been off another grand more at least.”

I raised my eyebrows at him, and he grinned. “I didn’t manage to take as much of the favorite as I wanted on the exchanges. Damn Internet link went down.”

“Just us or everyone?” I asked seriously.

“Dunno,” he said, intrigued. “I’ll find out.”

Luca and I started to pack up our equipment as Betsy paid out the occasional winning ticket. Most of the racegoers were streaming for the exits to try to beat the traffic jams, and, no doubt, there would be more winning tickets from the last race handed in the following day.

We kept a record on our computer of all the bets taken, both winning and losing, and it never ceased to amaze me how many of the winning tickets were never cashed. Presumably some were lost, and perhaps some inebriated punters didn’t realize they were winners, but almost every day there were two or three winning bets that were never claimed. “Sleepers,” they were called, and they were like a cash bonus for us. But it was one we could never  completely rely on. Our tickets didn’t have an expiry date on them, and, only the day before, I’d had to cash a sleeper from the Royal Ascot Meeting of the previous year. Maybe it had been hiding for twelve months in the deep recesses of someone’s morning-coat pocket, or tucked into the hatband of a topper, waiting quietly to be discovered and paid out.

The crowd had mostly dispersed to the parking lots by the time Luca, Betsy and I had packed up the majority of our gear and loaded it onto our little wheeled trolley that ingeniously doubled up as a base for our computer during the racing. The betting ring was deserted save for the other bookmakers, who, like us, were packing up amongst the detritus of a day’s gambling: discarded newspapers, torn-up betting slips, crumpled coffee cups and half-eaten sandwiches.

“Do you fancy a beer?” Luca asked as I pulled one of the elastic straps over our equipment.

“I’d love one,” I said, looking up at him. “But I can’t. I have to go and see Sophie.”

He nodded at me knowingly. “Some other time, then. Betsy and I are going to go and have one, if that’s all right with you. We’re taking the train into town later to go to the party in the park.”

“Right,” I said. “You go on. I’ll pack up the rest of the stuff.”

“Can you manage?” he asked.

He knew I could. I did it all the time. But this little exchange was his way of not taking it completely for granted.

I smiled at him. “No problem,” I said, waving a dismi...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Even Money is the gripping Dick Francis novel by Dick Francis and Felix Francis.Royal Ascot s first day, and bookmaker Ned Talbot watches helplessly as a string of favourites come in. With the punters totting up their winnings, he counts his losses. Then an old man steps forward with a very different claim. The father Ned never knew - long ago believed killed in a car crash - is standing before him.Barely an hour later, Ned s newly-found father is dying in Ascot s car park. Stabbed by an unknown assailant, he warns Ned be very careful . But of whom? Of what? Ned races to discover the truth behind his father s disappearance and sudden reappearance. It s not just money on the line now. It s lives.From Felix Francis and Dick Francis, the bestselling co-authors of Dead Heat comes Even Money, the latest Dick Francis novel. Packed with all the hair-raising suspense and excitement readers know and love from Dick Francis, Even Money is the most thrilling yet. Praise for the Dick Francis novels: The Francis flair is clear for all to see Daily Mail Spare, efficient and unflashy . . . inexorably draws you in Daily Telegraph The master of suspense and intrigue Country Life Still the master Racing PostDick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories and the biography of Lester Piggott. Dick Francis died in February, 2010, at the age of 89, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.Felix Francis is the younger of Dick s two sons. Since 2006, Felix has taken a more significant role in the writing, first with Dead Heat and then increasingly with the bestsellers, Silks and Even Money. Crossfire is the fourth novel of this father-and-son collaboration. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141048734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.48
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Dick Francis
Published by Penguin 2010-07-22 (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin 2010-07-22, 2010. Book Condition: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Bookseller Inventory # NU-GRD-00557040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
5.67
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Even Money is the gripping Dick Francis novel by Dick Francis and Felix Francis.Royal Ascot s first day, and bookmaker Ned Talbot watches helplessly as a string of favourites come in. With the punters totting up their winnings, he counts his losses. Then an old man steps forward with a very different claim. The father Ned never knew - long ago believed killed in a car crash - is standing before him.Barely an hour later, Ned s newly-found father is dying in Ascot s car park. Stabbed by an unknown assailant, he warns Ned be very careful . But of whom? Of what? Ned races to discover the truth behind his father s disappearance and sudden reappearance. It s not just money on the line now. It s lives.From Felix Francis and Dick Francis, the bestselling co-authors of Dead Heat comes Even Money, the latest Dick Francis novel. Packed with all the hair-raising suspense and excitement readers know and love from Dick Francis, Even Money is the most thrilling yet. Praise for the Dick Francis novels: The Francis flair is clear for all to see Daily Mail Spare, efficient and unflashy . . . inexorably draws you in Daily Telegraph The master of suspense and intrigue Country Life Still the master Racing PostDick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories and the biography of Lester Piggott. Dick Francis died in February, 2010, at the age of 89, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.Felix Francis is the younger of Dick s two sons. Since 2006, Felix has taken a more significant role in the writing, first with Dead Heat and then increasingly with the bestsellers, Silks and Even Money. Crossfire is the fourth novel of this father-and-son collaboration. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141048734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Dick Francis; Felix Francis
Published by Penguin (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2010. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # GH9780141048734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.29
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.66
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Published by Penguin (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Paperback Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000198914

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 1.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Dick Francis
Published by Penguin
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Bookseller Inventory # B9780141048734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
4.74
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6.94
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Dick Francis; Felix Francis
Published by Penguin (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Softcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2010. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780141048734_rkm

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.87
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Dick Francis; Felix Francis
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0141048735. Bookseller Inventory # ST0141048735

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Francis, Dick (Author)/ Francis, Felix (Author)
Published by Penguin (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 416 pages. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0141048735

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.59
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Published by Penguin Books Ltd 2010-07-22, London (2010)
ISBN 10: 0141048735 ISBN 13: 9780141048734
New paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd 2010-07-22, London, 2010. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780141048734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book