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Mystery writer Dick Francis has died

February 15, 2010 |  6:52 am


Dick Francis, the British jockey-turned-mystery writer, died at home in the Cayman Islands on Sunday. He was 89. 

The son of a Welsh horse breeder, Francis fought in World War II before becoming a jockey. He was a champion steeplechase racer, winning hundreds of the thousands of races he rode in from 1948 to 1957. From our obituary:

His most famous moment in racing came just a few months before he retired. Riding for the Queen Mother, his horse collapsed within sight of certain victory in the 1956 Grand National.

Francis told the BBC in 2006: "It was a terrible thing, but I look back on it now and I can say that if it hadn't happened I might never have written a book, and my books have certainly helped keep the wolf from the door."

His first after retirement was an autobiography, but soon he became known for his mysteries. He won three Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and a Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers' Assn. The association made him a Grand Master in 1996 for his lifetime achievement.

His wife, Mary, who died in 2000, worked closely with Francis. In recent years, he had been co-writing books with his son Felix; their most recent collaboration, "Crossfire" is due out later this year.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Jim Cooper / Associated Press