Greaves’ ebullient first novel asks who killed a beloved horse and how—and shows some interest in human casualties as well.
Because Jared Henley, the founder’s grandson who usually carries water for horsey Pasadena dowager Sydney Everett, is off on vacation somewhere, Henley & Hargrove’s director of litigation, Russell Dinsmoor, persuades Jack MacTaggart, who’s Of Counsel to the firm, to step in when Hush Puppy, Sydney’s Holsteiner stallion, dies suddenly and the pencil-pushers of Metropolitan Livestock Insurance decline to pay her claim. And no wonder, since Sydney made a tidy profit from the conveniently timed death of her injured horse Creole some years back, and veterinarian George Wells tells Jack that Hush Puppy’s death looks equally squirrelly. Jack tears himself away from the lawsuit he’s filed against the even less sympathetic insurer Hartford Allied on behalf of leukemia-stricken trash collector Victor Tazerian long enough to involve himself with Tara Flynn, stable manager at the Fieldstone Riding Club, and unearth an unholy paper trail leading right back to Henley & Hargrove. He can only wonder what Russ Dinsmoor would say about the whole mess, since Dinsmoor is as dead as Hush Puppy, brained by someone who evidently thought he knew too much about a densely layered scam involving blackmail, off-the-books medical research and serial equine murder. Don’t let all the legal shenanigans put you off: Jack, a highly unselective wiseacre, has a lighthearted anecdote for every occasion, including attacks on his own august person.
An auspicious debut. Jack would be welcome back in the winner’s circle any time.