Smokescreen Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Smokescreen.
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Smokescreen Summary & Study Guide Description

Smokescreen Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Smokescreen by Dick Francis.

Smokescreen is a novel by mystery writer and former steeplechase rider, Dick Francis. In this novel, Edward Lincoln, or Link, is an actor who has gone to South Africa to check on some horses for a friend. Link goes to Johannesburg under the guise of attending a premiere of one of his movies. While attending press conferences and fending off requests for more public appearances, Link finds himself drawn into a mystery that appears to include attempts on his own life. As Link gets closer to the truth, he finds himself in more danger than ever. Smokescreen is another exciting mystery, filled with horses, that will entertain Dick Francis fans and newcomers alike.

Edward Lincoln, or Link, is filming his latest movie in Spain when he learns that the director has died. The new director is one Link is familiar with, one that he has indicated in his contracts that he will not work with. A bet has been placed on when Link will lose his temper with the demanding director. When the director decides to change the scope of the movie and increase filming by two weeks, everyone thinks Link will blow immediately. However, Link manages to hang on to his temper, helping his friend Conrad, Director of Photography, win the bet.

Link goes home to his family in England when filming is done. A good friend calls a few days later to tell Link and his wife that she is dying. This friend, Nerissa, also asks Link if he will go to South Africa to check on eleven race horses she inherited when her sister Portia died a few months before. Link agrees, arranging to appear at a premiere of one of his movies in Johannesburg so no one will know the true reason for his visit. This leads to some complications with Clifford Wenkins, the representative from his movie company. The company, Worldic, wants Link to make multiple promotional appearances, but he refuses. When Clifford pushes the issue, Link reluctantly agrees to a press conference and a reception before or after the premiere.

Link goes to the race track immediately after he arrives at the hotel. Link meets Danilo, Nerissa's nephew and heir, there. They watch one of Nerissa's horses run its race. Link's experiences tells him that someone is wearing the horse out before its race, suggesting it is the trainer's fault. However, upon meeting the trainer and speaking with him, Link begins to think this is unlikely. It does seem that Danilo might have a motive, giving Link something to explore.

Link goes to the press conference the next day. During an interview with a young woman who does a women's radio show, a mic causes the woman to be electrocuted. Link is the only one in the room who knows CPR, so he finds himself saving her life. It is not until later that Link realizes he should have been the one holding the mic, therefore he should be the one who died or nearly died. This episode ends up on the front page of nearly every paper in the world, creating publicity for the premiere.

A short time later, Link is invited to have dinner with the brother-in-law of Nerissa's sister. This family, the van Hurens, seems to go out of their way to prove they are not impressed with Link's stardom, so he makes it clear he does not care that they own a gold mine. They end up becoming good friends and the family invites Link to visit their gold mine. This invitation becomes a party when Danilo is invited, and then Evan and Conrad get themselves invited. The visit to the gold mine includes a trip into the mine itself. While there, Link is separated from the rest of the group and then is hit over the head with a rock. When Link wakes, he finds himself in the dark.

Link makes his way out of the side tunnels and is rescued when he meets the main tunnel. Link downplays the whole incident. However, when he is back at his hotel he remembers that someone else was in the tunnel when he was hurt. Link begins to wonder if someone is attempting to kill him. Link calls his wife and asks her to take a look at Nerissa's will so he can determine who might be behind both the sabotaging of the horses and the attempts on Link's life. In the meantime, Link goes to Kruger Park with his friend, Conrad, and Evan.

When they reach Kruger Park, Link follows along as Conrad and Evan attempt to videotape elephants for a new movie they are working on. On the second night, Link calls his wife and learns that Nerissa has willed him her share in van Huren's gold mine. This gives Danilo reason to kill Link because the estate duty on the gold mine would be enormous, leaving Danilo with less of the residue. Before Link can do anything with this information, he is kidnapped out of his room and left handcuffed to his car's steering wheel on an abandoned road.

Link spends three days handcuffed to the car and is beginning to lose hope when Evan and Conrad find him. Link tells them his story about Danilo and they agree to help him catch Danilo. Evan calls Quentin van Huren and tells him Link's theories, asking him to come to Kruger Park with the police. Van Huren agrees. The following morning, Evan calls Danilo and convinces him that Link has the means to write out an accusation, hoping he will come to the park to incriminate himself.

Conrad sets up a video camera and tape recorder near the car. Danilo comes and burns the accusation Link wrote during his original three days in the car. As soon as Danilo drives away, Conrad, Evan, and van Huren show up with the police. Danilo is arrested and Link is rescued once more.

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