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Adventure In Reading - Dick Francis - Second Wind
What's It About
Dick Francis much of the time writes about horse racing in Great Britain. This novel (while there is a side aspect of horses and racing) does not delve into that subject matter. I don't think there is a race in the book.
The book is about Perry Stuart. He's a young man who has his doctorate in physics but tries often to hide that fact. Generally he is unsuccessful in his efforts to hide his genius but it does lend the Dick Francis' character an aura of humility. However,he does continuously display his knowledge in casual comments.
Perry is employed as a weatherman in England. He got his start there accidentally and exhibited a work ethic, winning looks and personality plus the ability to form a companionship with the television viewer. Those traits meant he advanced through the ranks of his employer quickly. He is now the second ranked forecaster at the station.
He is an avid amateur photographer and is enamored with the ideas of seeing and photographing unusual but normal weather phenomenon. A close friend and fellow employee owns and flies a small airplane and the two are often in the air together. There is never a question about who flies and who navigates and Perry is happy to sit in the copilot's seat. Much of his flight time is spent navigating or taking pictures.
Perry was orphaned and taken in by a grandmother. She raised him to be a fine young man. Since his graduation and employment he has contributed financially to her household. Even when they established separate residences and her employment income ceased, he augmented her meager savings to allow her to live as she wished.
Perry and his pilot friend reach a somewhat foolhardy decision to spend their vacation days together at the residence of an acquaintance in South Florida. The decision was made primarily because a hurricane is brewing in the south Atlantic. Both of them have a desire to fly through the eye of a hurricane.
The relationship between Perry and his grandmother is central to the book. She is purported to be getting the "Heebie-Jeebies" about his trip to the hurricane. When Perry decides to ignore her uneasiness, the reader knows he's making a mistake.
By this time the reader is aware that there is some skulduggery beginning to happen. The criminal activity continues to lie dormant. The acquaintance in Florida has purchased a new plane. After going to Florida, Perry and friend prepare to fly the new purchase through the storm. Something really flaky is beginning to occur but the reader still doesn't know exactly what is happening.
During the flight, they accomplish a side task for their Florida acquaintance and then fly through the eye of the hurricane. When they reenter the storm proper their plane crashes. An emergency occurs which eventually is worked out.
The criminal activity that has been alluded to but never really defined is shuffled off to the side. A love interest is developed between Perry and his grandmother's caregiver nurse. Before love really blooms, however, Perry is showing signs of a disease. It is a rare disease associated with his activities when surviving the storm crash.
Things begin to come to a crisis and Perry is hospitalized. The bad guys are around and some are killed. Perry gets more deeply involved and is in physical danger. Some bad guys are allowed to survive and prosper without the knowledge that they have been detected. The authorities know that they will inadvertently provide information in the future.
Love blooms. The bad guys are all defined. The good guys are all defined. All the correct people wind up happy.
I really like Dick Francis' novels. This one is no exception.
This time, however, it did seem a long time before he revealed the bad guys. His small amount of misdirection succeeded in me being wrong when I second guessed him.
As usual, he was able to talk expertly about the profession of meteorology and make weather forecasting an interesting subject.
My opinion is that it is a really good book and would rate it around 8 on a scale of 1-10.