Book review: ‘Reining in Murder,’ by Leigh Hearon
May 25, 2016
For many, summertime means relaxing with a good book on a sandy beach or in between cool sheets after a day of adventuring.
First-time author Leigh Hearon has written the inaugural book in what is sure to be a captivating mystery series for just such moments. "Reining in Murder" will have Dick Francis fans thrilled, with Hearon introducing Annie Carson, a feisty and down-to-earth horse trainer who finds herself at the center of a high-stakes murder investigation.
Carson is called in to aid in the rescue of a valuable horse after a tragic car accident on a rural road not far from her own horse farm on the scenic Olympic Peninsula. More comfortable with her menagerie of animals, she nonetheless is lured into the often-torrid and duplicitous world of humans, where she discovers there are some who will not hesitate to kill anyone standing in their way. Motivated by concern for the horses who are unwillingly tangled up in this dangerous high-stakes game of murder, she utilizes the benefits of small-town living to ferret out the truth.
Hearon writes with a light and flowing tone, comfortable in both the equestrian and investigative realms, which makes for a gratifying and natural juxtaposition where the two worlds crash together. She anchors her narrative on a foundation of a real love for horses and animals, in general, and it is that sentiment that builds the backbone of the book. Indeed, the most focused moments come from Carson's daily interactions with her horses and with her newest charge, the lucky thoroughbred she rescues from the scene of the accident.
Hearon also draws on her extensive and varied experiences as a long-time private investigator, whose investigative work has provided inspiration for numerous television crime dramas over the decades. With her awareness of the inner machinations of criminal investigations, her narrative is well-paced, enticing and realistic. It avoids the saccharin aftertaste that some writing can leave when the author is unfamiliar with a subject matter.
There is nothing fake about Annie Carson as a protagonist. It is often said that it is best to write what you know, and it is clear that by doing so, Hearon has hit the mark. In addition to being well versed in both the world of law enforcement and equine care, she lives within the real world depicted in her novel. Her familiarity with the unique natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula is deftly woven throughout the book, evoking a real sense of place, rooted by the earthiness of the horses and the unavoidable beauty of one of Washington's most diverse natural landscapes.
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With another adventure of mystery and murder due out in the fall, now would be a perfect time to become familiar with the endearingly down-to-earth Annie Carson. Leigh Hearon seems destined for high marks with what is shaping up to be a delightful new series in the mystery genre.
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