Location: Bacchus Bar

Chosen by: Reviewing on behalf of a reader’s group.


As Felix Francis’ first lone offering to the literary world to continue his father’s legacy, Gamble had a similar feel to his father’s novels (we were reliably informed by those who have read the Dick Francis novels).  Distinct from our usual reads, Gamble is a crime thriller centred around the world of horseracing and investment banking. The book provoked mixed reactions, so here’s our good, bad, and ugly.

The Good: The book is easy-reading in terms of style, with simple language, and was undemanding.  The story was uncomplicated, requiring little thought, yet the action and twists and turns made it a page turner. We wanted to know what would happen next, and the book was pleasantly un-angsty. The book provided a surface level interest, and was impressive for a writer whose background is not in literature.

The Bad: The protagonist’s recapping became a bit irritating and repetitive, and his character wasn’t particularly likeable.  There was a lack of character depth throughout, making it difficult to care about the characters’ outcomes.  The lack of substance meant the book was not particularly memorable.  The easy to read style unfortunately meant the book didn’t provide a challenge or test the intellect, especially as it was almost impossible for the reader to figure out the overly complicated link back to the killer.

And the Ugly: A few honest quotes from members, “It’s not going to change the literary landscape of the country”, “Mills and Boons with horses for men”, “Nothing beautiful, not even a lingering phrase”, “Dreadfully basic fluff”,  and “The opposite of thought-provoking”.

Having said that, we could appreciate that the book would be great for some readers. In particular, the book would be a good holiday or bedtime read due to the uncomplicated style.  It would be great for anyone who likes horse racing/ investment banking, anyone who likes crime thrillers, or who wants to read something that’s not too taxing.

Overall score: 4/10