BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bea Reviews Pulse by Felix Francis

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 7th, 2017 
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository*  | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:

New York Times-bestselling author Felix Francis is back in the newest thrilling adventure in the Dick Francis tradition.

A smartly dressed man has been found unconscious at the local racecourse and is rushed to the hospital, where he subsequently dies. But who is he? Where does he come from? He had no form of identification on him, and no one claims the body.

Doctor Chris Rankin, a specialist who treated the deceased--and who struggles with mental health issues--is intrigued by the nameless dead man, obsessed even, and starts asking questions. However, someone doesn't want the questions answered and will go to any lengths to prevent it, including an attempted murder. But when no one will believe that someone tried to kill Chris, the doctor is left with no option but to discover who the nameless man was and why he died . . . preferably before following him into an early grave.

My Thoughts:

What Worked:

1) I'm pretty sure that this is the first Francis book with a female protagonist, certainly in Felix's books and probably in his fathers books. It was a change, and not a bad one but it wasn't well done (more on that below). Still, it was a nice change and it would be good to see more female protagonists in future Francis books.

2) The plot was something new, to me at least. Not the fiddling with races, but the execution, and the death of the mystery man mentioned in the blurb. Although there's no series to the Francis books, they are all set at or connected to horse racing and somehow the Francis men keep coming up with new angles and new stories.

3) Francis tackled some serious issues, drug use, anxiety, anorexia. It's heavy duty stuff and while the execution is iffy, I commend him for the effort. Again, these are different for the Francis books and it's good to see real life being tackled.

4) The story was engaging, despite some flaws and a slowish start. It slowly reeled me in until I didn't want to out it down and had to keep reading until the end. While I figured out parts of the mystery, other parts had me scratching my head trying to figure it out. And near the end, when Chris's life was in danger, I was practically holding my breath to see how she'd escape.

What Didn't Work:

1) The author has a lot to learn about writing from a woman's POV. He'd have been better off doing third person instead of first person. It was clearly a woman as written by a man. I mean, she thinks to herself that her breasts used to be 'fulsome'. Seriously? I rolled my eyes so hard at that they almost fell out. And when I shared that snippet on Twitter, many agreed with me. I know, there are women authors who do a poor job of writing men; they need to improve also. I honestly thought the character whose head we were in was a male right up until the page where they started thinking about their difficulties getting pregnant. Despite those problems and her anorexia, Chris never felt like a woman. She was interesting and she has potential but improvement is needed if she's to be a recurring character or if Francis plans to do more female protagonists. I'd actually like to see more, provided they're well written.

2) Related to the above, I have mixed feelings about her health problems; in some respects they were traditional Francis (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts) while in other respects they felt pasted in as if because the protagonist was female, she had to have these health issues. Because she was a female, she had to had issues around children and getting pregnant, anorexia, making her husband happy. Honestly, the story would have worked without them. They didn't add to her character or to the story but felt grafted on. 

Also, her constant worrying and fussing and anxiety issues got to be annoying, and they slowed the pace of the story. The story started out fast, with the mystery man's death, then slowed down when Chris's health took priority, then finally the mystery took priority and the pace picked up again.
The Verdict:

"Pulse" was a mixed bag. The story had a lot of potential, and it did end up grabbing my attention, but it's flawed and the pace was erratic. Not a must read.


  1. Interesting information. I haven't enjoyed the last few of the ones Dick Francis co-wrote with Felix instead of his late wife. That's why the female view isn't as good as it used to be, probably. It rather reminds me of the difference from pure Anne McCaffrey to her & her son, to Todd on his own. Neither writes the same as the deceased parent. If you come in to it from "new writer" they're fine, I suppose, but as continuations of what the parent did, no. Not for me.

    1. Felix's story telling has been improving but this was definitely a step back.

  2. Interesting, and good analysis, Bea. I stopped reading after Felix took over entirely, because the books just didn't have the same feel. Dick Francis always wrote from the male POV, but some of his characters seemed to understand women pretty well. Not surprising, since Dick's wife Mary was his uncredited collaborator throughout. She did much of the research incorporated into the books (on everything from wine to piloting a plane.) I think Felix stepped in after his mother died, if I recall correctly from the article I read. Anyway, it's disappointing but not surprising that he doesn't write terribly well from the woman's POV. I think I'll give this one a miss.

    1. I'd forgotten about the assistance of Dick's wife until you and Patti mentioned it.

      Felix's writing has improved but this book not one of his better ones. I'd like to see Felix write something all his own, nothing to do with his fathers works, and see what that writing is like.


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