Second book feature on three of a kind by Dick Francis is To the Hilt. According to Merriam Webster, this idiomatic expression means to the very limit or completely or with nothing lacking.
Again, as with the other posts, you would need to read the book to judge if the title is really fit for the story. If I may lay my opinion, it is. Alexander Kinloch, has protected the Kinloch's honor and has fulfilled his promise to the dying step-father, Ivan George Westering, to the hilt.
Well, here's the story. Alexander, he prefers to be called Al, is the only son of the fourth dead son of an earl. He is often called the weirdo of the family - Mad Alexander and his acrylic and brushes. Alexander is a very talented painter of golf scenes. Some of his paintings were sold in New York galleries. If you think about it, he is not so mad after all, as his art is actually appreciated and bought by people. One art critic even said that he does not paint golf but the perseverance of the human spirit.
Ivan, Alexander's step-father and his mother's second husband, had a heart attack. Alexander being the only and dutiful son, came to London to support his mother. Ivan, owns a brewery and is in the brink of bankruptcy because the Finance Director ran off with the money. Ivan and Alexander's Uncle, the current Lord of Kinloch, whom they call Himself, are tight friends. Himself have mentioned to Ivan that Alexander can be trusted with the earl's life. That's how trustworthy Al is. So with this, Ivan gave Alexander a special power of attorney to act on his behalf to save the brewery while it's still possible. Also, according to Himself, Alexander is good in hiding things. As Himself had asked Al to hide the Kinloch family's legacy, the often subject of debate among historians and citizens - commonly known as the Kinloch Honor or the Prince Charles Edward Stuart's sword. It is often questioned if the hilt rightfully belongs to the Kinlochs as the castle and surrounding estates has been turned over to the government. As to Al's talent in hiding things, another of his assignment is to hide Golden Malt, Ivan's race horse, to stop the bank from taking it and to hide the famed and historic King Alfred golden cup. Will Al save the brewery? Will he be able to make sure that the golden cup and the race horse are safe from the creditors and other greedy hands? Will the hilt stay hidden and not be taken by the state as property?
Arg... Alexander is faced with a Herculean feat and all these tasks are dizzying, to say the least. He is a painter. What does he know about running a business, much less saving it from running into the drain? Aside from that, he has to hide two very important things. Well, as I said, he is not so mad at all. There is a method to his madness. You will be surprised to know how he was able to amazingly perform the three impossible jobs. You have to find out for yourself. I don't want to ruin the thrill and the mystery. I think, of all the main characters of Francis, Mad Alexander Kinloch, is my favorite. He may appear extrinsic but he is actually very gifted and sharp. So sharp, he is in danger of cutting himself. I love his character, very adorable and would take him any day as company.
Aside from being amused with Mad Alexander's personality, one awesome character of the book is its abundance of witty phrases like the one I highlighted in the previous paragraph. These phrases are so amusing and catchy, just like the title is. I think, to the hilt, is one of my favorite idioms. Just as I would say, I will protect my family, especially my nephews and niece, to the hilt.
Reading about the disturbance to Mad Alexander's quiet and uneventful life has been really really pleasing. I can't help but be astounded at his antics. Knowing Mad Alexander, the queer one, has outsmarted his adversaries and done his duty, to the hilt!
I highly recommend this book to everyone. Even if you hate horses, I am sure, you will love Mad Alexander, the master in hiding things.
**Tip: He hides them in the last places you will look.