Field of Thirteen

This mesmerizing collection of short stories shows the literary jockey at the top of his game. Employing the best monikers since Dickens (Tricksy Wilcox, who ”had brought unemployment to a fine art”; pickpocket Blisters Schultz; auctioneer Peregrine Vine) along with galloping plots and O. Henry endings, Francis handles the short form with ease, allowing him to focus his plots with a keen eye and more surely home in on his mostly sleazy characters. Whether it’s an elegy for a sportswriter on the skids or the ballad of a Welsh groom and her social-climbing daughter, the stories in Field of Thirteen linger long after you turn the page. A