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Sid Halley Books In Order

Publication Order of Sid Halley Books

Odds Against (1965) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Whip Hand (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Come to Grief (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Under Orders (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Refusal (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The name ‘Sid Halley’ refers to a series of mystery suspense novels set in England. Written by Dick Francis, the books follow the exploits of an ex-jockey who solves crimes.

+The Story
Sid Halley is one of Dick Francis’ most popular heroes. The character is unique for a Dick Francis hero because he is the only protagonist the author ever created who appeared in more than two of his novels.

Francis is known primarily for his standalone stories. He broke the pattern when he featured Halley in four of his novels, a feat that suggests that Sid Halley struck a special chord in the author’s heart.

Sid Halley’s defining factor is his mutilated hand and glorious history. Halley once ruled the horse racing circuit as a champion Jockey. But then an accident ruined his future and he was forced to seek his fortunes elsewhere.

The people Halley meets in ‘Odds Against’, the first of the Sid Halley novels, are quick to dismiss him because of his poor countenance. To their eyes, Halley is just a sad former athlete who all but failed to move past his glory days as a racing champion jockey.

They do not know of the obstacles and the heartache the hero had to overcome before his star finally begun to rise. Halley’s backstory is scattered throughout this series of novels. Readers learn that Halley’s father was only 19 when he died.

The man intended to marry Halley’s mother in three days’ time. But then his work as a window cleaner led to a fatal fall and Halley’s young mother was left alone to nurture him. She was also 19 when Halley was born.

She did what she could to survive the slums of Liverpool and she managed to care for Halley until he was fifteen, at which point an illness put her in the ground as well.

Fortunately, she took steps to secure her son a place at the side of a Newmarket racing trainer. Halley was actually attending grammar school at the time. But his mother thought that he was better off attaining practical skills that would serve him in the immediate future as a racing trainer’s apprentice.

The development changed Sid Halley’s entire life. Not only did the apprenticeship provide Halley food and shelter after his mother died but the lessons his elderly master instilled into him about horses sparked in Halley a love for racing.

As his manners and speech patterns evolved, turning Halley into more of a gentleman and less of the rustic urchin he had initially learned toward, the protagonist’s riding abilities also grew.

Halley stayed with his master until his time of service came to an end. And because of the guidance his master gave him with regards to saving and investing, Halley departed his indentured servitude with a sizable fortune that he had earned from the stock market.

Not long after, Halley made a name for himself in the racing world, becoming a champion jockey and defending his position at the top for half a dozen years. But then everything went wrong.

First, Sid Halley’s marriage fell apart. The jockey met and married Jenny Roland before his star in the racing arena rose. And they were happy for a little while. But they never had children.

And Halley’s racing career put quite a bit of strain on their relationship, so much so that Jenny eventually asked her husband to choose between her and his horses. Halley chose his career. So they divorced.

And then an accident destroyed Sid Halley’s hand, forcing him to retire from a sport for which he had sacrificed everything.

When readers meet Halley in ‘Odds Against’, the former jockey is barely holding onto his sanity. His chance to make a comeback arises when a successful security firm hires him.

Halley initially resists the call of the PI world. He executes his duties to the best of his ability but there is little in the way of passion for the detective. Rather, he is merely going with the flow.

But then a case draws him back into the world of horse racing, and not only does Halley step up to the plate, resolving the situation and giving his clients the answers they desire but the hero realizes that he just might have a knack for detective work.

The Sid Halley series follows Halley around as he comes to terms with the fact that his racing career is completely and utterly dead, this as he slowly but surely finds his footing as a private investigator who tackles cases primarily related to horses, racing, and training.

Halley spends a significant amount of time struggling with the negative impact his mutilated hand has on his ability to do his work and form relationships with other people. His keen mind and stubborn streak set him apart from some of his friends and colleagues.

+Adaptations
Yorkshire Television produced a television adaptation of the Sid Halley stories in 1979. Halley was played by Mike Gwilym.

+The Author
Dick Francis was a retired British Jockey and crime writer. He worked closely with his wife and often credited her as his co-writer. He was heard saying that he would have happily added her name to the covers of his books if his publishers had allowed it.

+Odds Against
Sid Halley is in a bad place. His hand was trampled by a horse and that ended his racing career. He landed a position at a detective agency, and he was happy to simply go with the flow. But then an assignment went wrong and he got shot.

So Halley wasn’t in the best mood when his father-in-law saw fit to trick him into investigating an obnoxious man and his disagreeable wife.

+Whip Hand
Sid Halley thought his life was over when an injury ended his racing career. Then he tried his hand at PI work and realized that he actually had a knack for it.

Now Halley is determined to make his mark as a private investigator. So when an elite horse trainer’s wife comes to him asking that he investigate the reasons why her husband’s horses have been performing so poorly, he leaps at the challenge.

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