Popular and prolific British mystery writer Dick Francis -- whose experiences as a champion jockey in the 1940s and 1950s influenced the themes of his 40+ novels, died February 14, 2010, at his home in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.
Following his 1957 horse-racing autobiography, The Sport of Queens, Francis turned to fiction, crafting a series of equine-themed mystery/thrillers from 1962 to 2006 (with the assistance of his wife, until her death in 2000). Beginning in 2007, he is listed as co-authoring additional horse mysteries with his Son, Felix, who plans to continue his father's series.
Although he introduced a few repeating characters, most of Francis' novels were standalones. Fans loved his books for the accuracy of the horse-racing environments he depicted -- he was well-known for the extensive research he conducted prior to writing. Francis received numerous literary awards for his novels, and to-date is the only 3-time winner of the Edgar Award for best mystery novel (for Forfeit , Whip Hand  and Come to Grief ). A handful of Francis' novels have been adapted to film or television (see below).
BBC News announcement of Francis' death
Official Dick Francis web site
Wikipedia page for Dick Francis (with complete list of credits)
FantasticFiction page for Dick Francis (with complete list of credits)
Internet Movie Database page for Dick Francis (with list of screen credits)