Thea Campbell goes out for revenge when the one person who is simultaneously the most likely and least likely candidate for thief steals her horse. But Olympic hopeful Valerie Parsons is past caring about being arrested: she’s dead, and the police think Thea’s horse is the killer.
Desperate to prove her horse’s innocence, Thea is soon drawn into ever-deepening danger as she confronts those looking to settle the score. Toss in her wrecked love life and a sexy geology professor who stirs up more than dust, and Thea’s life is out of control. Too many details are not adding up. Who is the killer? And will Thea find them before they find her?
The cleverly titled Death By A Dark Horse has all the trappings of an engaging murder mystery: high stakes, an independent heroine, intimidating goons and a clever villain. All of this is set upon a backdrop of horse-riding and dressage, so right off the bat I can easily recommend this story to horse lovers. If you’re not much of a horse person, rest assured this novel might still have something to offer you.
As a main character, Thea is very much someone you can relate to. She’s clever — and runs her own accounting business — but at the same time she’s also the “average Jane” of the story who is caught up in events greater than herself. The same could be said for all the characters in the book: Schreyer manages to avoid stereotypes and make her cast believable. Even the police — who at first I found very annoying and frustrating — ultimately are behaving as you’d expect them to behave if some average citizen decided to play detective.
As for the plot, it’s fast-paced and entertaining, and most importantly for a murder mystery, the resolution isn’t predictable: the identity of the killer was certainly a ‘dark horse’ that took me by surprise. Interwoven with the murder plot is Thea’s love life (in crisis) and her insecurities when it comes to horse-riding — while neither of these two elements dominate in the novel, they provide much needed colour and background to Thea’s character.
In sum, if you enjoy murder-mysteries with strong female leads, or if you like horses, then this might be a book for you.
(reviewed the day of purchase)