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16 July 2014

Softcover, 2009, Harpercollins (New Zealand.)

Our local video shop, accepting that sometimes people like a book instead, has a set of half a dozen bins along the shopfront, containing books at $2.95 each or 4 for $10. All used but in almost new condition, and it’s common if I’m in town for me to stop and graze my way along them. Which is how I discovered this book. I was surprised that I’d missed it in 2009, because I tend to like ‘horse’ mysteries and to add to it, this one was written by a kiwi and is set very solidly in New Zealand. Better still, the writer knows what she’s talkjing about and manages to write backgrounds in the world of three-day-eventing, and long-standing family problems, with a foreground of everything from arson to murder as someone tries to win a lucrative contract at all costs.

Dr. Caitlin Summerfield gets a message while she is at work in the hospital, to be told that her mother, whom Caitlin hasn’t seen or spoken to in seven years, has been found unconscious in a field at her breeding and horse training establishment, apparently after a fall from her horse. Caitlin goes there, and finds that her mother is in a coma, in massive debt, and that the girth on the saddle that was being used has had stitching deliberately cut. From there things escalate, as Caitlin finds her mother’s car has been stolen, one of the best horses has vanished, the next-door neighbour is both attractive and attracted to her, she has a live -in assistant, a foul-mouthed stroppy sixteen-year-old girl, and that the local police are wondering – if none of the continuing crimes are accidents could it be that they are Caitlin’s work for the insurance? With Dom, the attractive neighbour and Kasey the assistant, Caitlin sets out to discover what’s going on, who’s responsible, and all of this while competing in three-day eventing around the country. I read this, closed the book and there was no question but that it was going on the permanent shelves. I must see if I can find the author’s website in case she’s written more great mysteriues like this one. (And I did, to discover to my considerable annoyance that this book seems to be a one-off. Arrgghhh. I liked the book, and wanted more of this type. I can only hope that the author does produce another sometime…)

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