Release Date: Dec 26, 2017
Series: Carson Stables
Annie Carson is a horse trainer on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington. Annie loves horses and hears about numerous horses being held on a feedlot in Eastern Washington waiting to be sold for slaughter. She is able to make arrangements to rescue four of the horses. When she arrives at her destination, she is shocked by the conditions in which the horses are being kept and is saddened by the fact that she isn’t able to save more of the horses destined to be killed. While visiting the feedlot, she discovers the dead body of one of the lot’s owners, trampled in his own corral. However, there is more to the story, and Annie becomes local law enforcement’s prime suspect for murder. She is determined to do what it takes to find the real killer and clear her name, while helping as many horses as she can.
I haven’t read the first two books in this series, but it’s easy to get to know the important characters. Annie Carson is the main character and her passion for horses is contagious. Her generous and charming boyfriend, Marcus Colbert, is likeable and comes through for Annie when she needs help. Both are independent, busy people, but have good chemistry when they are together. There are other side characters that also play important roles in the story, but the real stars are the horses – the horses on Annie’s ranch, Eddie and the other unfortunate horses on the feedlot, and the wild horses running free on Native American land. Animal lovers and horse lovers in particular will enjoy the book. I like horses but don’t have much experience with them, but enjoyed learning more about them, as well as about the lives of horse owners. I wasn’t aware horses in the U.S. were sold to slaughterhouses outside the country, so that part of the book was eye-opening and very sad. The emphasis on horses as part of the story was a fresh take on the cozy mystery and I applaud the author for giving readers something different.
Annie is determined to get to the truth of the murder and is very effective at continuing to dig until she gets to the facts of the case. I like her persistence, but the investigation is the weak part of the book. Annie goes in circles for a while and the pace of the book slows to a point that I was starting to lose interest. Luckily, things pick up and the book concludes with a satisfying and unexpected ending. In fact, things wrap up so neatly that considering all the challenges Annie faces in trying to help the feedlot horses and solve the case, the ending is a bit too pat. However, if given the choice between tragedy and something uplifting, I’ll take the happy ending any time.