Its not often that a discussion of fine woodworking crops up in popular fiction. Its rare when the major character in a work of fiction happens to be a woodworker. Its rarer still when the portrayal is accurate.
As with any profession, real-life practitioners look at their fictional counterparts with a critical eye. I suspect that genuine surgeons watch an episode of E.R. or House with more interest than do you and I. Probably the same thing when a real trial lawyer reads a Perry Mason novel, or a real detective watches Law and Order.
So when my wife encouraged me to read a mystery novel called Longshot by Dick Francis, one of her favorite authors, she enticed me be telling me that a key character in the book is a woodworker.
Dick Francis is a former jockey, one of the most famous in England. His novels are remarkably diverse, even though each one somehow has horseracing as a key plot element. Its how he manages to weave racing into the narrative, while still making each book a standout mystery for non-racing fans, which has made Francis so popular.
As a woodworker, I was impressed with how accurately Francis portrayed not only the woodworker, but his shop and tools. In fact, not only is the woodworker a major character, but his shop skills are a major plot point. I wasnt disappointed with the portrayal at all.
Longshot is the story of a writer, John Kendall, whos working on the biography of a famous British racehorse trainer. As he spends time with the trainer and this family including the aforementioned woodworker, who is one of the trainers sons Johns research on the book takes some unexpected turns as he begins to learn of more than a few skeletons in the wealthy familys collective closets. The more he learns, the more he and other characters are in danger. Without giving away too much, I will say that there are murders, there are shady dealings, there are arrows fired at unsuspecting people.
Oh, yeah; and theres a very, very sharp chisel
Till next time,