Murder rocks the elite world of North Carolina horse country in this debut mystery novel.
Lanie Montgomery, a former New York lawyer, now lives in her hometown of Southern Pines, N.C., where she runs a feed and tack store. She was once a rising star in eventing—a three-day series of equestrian competitions—but since she nearly died in a riding accident years ago, she won’t get on a horse. As Lanie nurses emotional wounds from a recently ended love affair, Marge Cameron, the 90-year-old dowager of the town’s horse set, is brutally murdered. The prime suspect is a disgruntled local rider, but after another killing, then a third, more people become suspects. A handsome member of the State Bureau of Investigation cautions Lanie to leave the sleuthing to the professionals, but she soon sets off to find the killer—only to later find herself fleeing for her life when she becomes a target. Wall plainly knows horses and the world of equestrianism; the character of Lanie is also well-drawn, with a compelling and believable personality, and minor characters are similarly convincing. The novel revealingly describes the rarified social milieu of those whose lives revolve around horseflesh. The plot moves along briskly, and the clues add up nicely; overall, this novel has all the makings of a good mystery, maybe even a series. However, the text contains many typographical errors, including several instances of a character’s capitalized name, Elaine, appearing in the middle of other words. Although the ending leaves an opening for a sequel, it also fails to explain a lot—particularly regarding the old woman’s murderer.
An unevenly executed mystery that nonetheless shows much promise.