Francis, Dick. Nerve. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

Reason read: the Kentucky Derby takes place in May. Read in honor of the horses.

Robert “Rob” Finn is an up and coming steeplechase rider with a passion for the competition. His passion turns to self doubt after a series of events threaten his confidence. First Arthur Mathews, a fellow jockey and friend, takes his own life in front of everyone. Then Rob starts to lose race after race after race. A fall from a horse has the whole steeplechase community convinced Rob has finally lost his nerve. And everyone knows a rider without nerve is a useless rider. It isn’t until Rob discovers a carefully orchestrated trap and uncovers proof of sabotage that he starts to formulate his revenge.

As an aside, I would like to know people who are “as cheering as rum punch in a snow storm” (p 8). I think that would be a good thing.

Favorite lines, “Stifling hope is a hopeless business” (p 46) and “Who wouldn’t love a girl who thought of hot soup at a time like that” (p 127).

Author fact: Francis was a jockey himself and you know what they say, people should write what they know.

Book trivia: Nerve is short, not even 200 pages long. This is Francis’s second mystery.

Nancy said: Nerve is simply a “treasure” and “ought not to go unread” (p 165).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “My Own Private Dui” in Nancy’s category “ought not go unread” (p 165). I know, I said that already.

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