For those of you who haven't been indoctrinated, Dick Francis is a prolific British writer of mysteries. They're all tied into racing in some form or fashion (though not always directly; the protagonist might be a race course photographer, or just own race horses, or have friends who do, or what have you), the protagonist is always male (and there is usually a different proagonist from book to book, though he's had two main characters that occasionally reappear), and he usually gets his girl. (Speaking of which, plantgirl, I know you read Francis; do you remember which one it what where the main character had the paralyzed wife? It's been bugging me lately, and I can't seem to find it.) His books are fun, lightweight, well researched, and, while they're always cut from the same mold, they're always different enough to be interesting.
Anyhow, Under Orders is Francis' first release in something like 6 years, and so I was very excited to get my hands on it; however, it just wasn't quite as good as I've come to expect from him. It felt like he was relying too much on exposition instead of letting the story move itself, which has never been an issue before; I felt too much like the author and his opinons were coming through, not the protagonist; and, it was the first time in the history of reading Francis (and I've read about half of his over 40 works of fiction) that I realized, two thirds of the way into the book, that I didn't care who the villan was.
I'm hoping that this is just a glitch, the result of spending six years without publishing a book. If you haven't read Francis before and you're a mystery lover, you should go forth and read, because he really is excellent, but this isn't the place to start.