British Thriller Author Dick Francis Dead at 89

Monday, Feb 15, 2010  |  Updated 1:00 AM EDT
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British Thriller Author Dick Francis Dead at 89

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LINGFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 21: The starting stalls stand idle at sunset at Lingfield Park on November 21, 2005 in Lingfield, England (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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Dick Francis, the best-selling British thriller writer and former champion jockey, died on Sunday in his home in the Cayman Islands. He was 89.

A successful steeplechase jockey, Francis turned to writing after he retired from racing in 1957. He penned 42 novels, many of which featured racing as a theme. His books were translated into more than 20 languages, and in 2000 Queen Elizabeth II — whose mother was among his many readers — honored Francis by making him a Commander of the British Empire.

He is survived by two sons as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandson. A small funeral will be held at Francis' home on Grand Cayman, followed by a memorial service in London.

Francis' son Felix said he and his brother, Merrick, were "devastated" by their father's death, but "rejoice in having been the sons of such an extraordinary man."

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