By Thom Geier
Updated February 14, 2010 at 10:03 PM EST

Dick Francis, the jockey turned best-selling crime novelist, died at his Caribbean home on Grand Cayman at the age of 89, the New York Times reported Sunday. A native of Wales who served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Francis had a long and popular career as a jockey. After a serious fall in 1957, Francis retired as a jockey and took up his pen, producing more than 40 crime novels, many set in the world of horseracing.