Kit Ehrman: At Risk
Link to the author's website with free links for the book
Kindle UK: free
Kindle UK: free
Other Steve Kline mysteries on Kindle: £0.66
This was a cracking read. I sat up far too long trying to finish it and find out what happened. It’s tautly plotted, has an excellent horsey background, and had me holding my breath as the denouement approached. If you like heart-in-mouth stuff, with strong, attractive characters, download this book: you really don't have anything to lose, because it's free.
Hero Steve Kline, at the age of only 21, is barn manager to Foxdale, a stable of over 200 horses. He’s very, very good at his job. The book opens as Steve is heading to the barn in the middle of the night to give a horse medication. He surprises an attempt to steal seven of the barn’s horses; is beaten up and abducted. He gets free, but with no idea of who’s abducted him. The theft is not an isolated incident: the barn is subjected to increasingly horrible incidents. Someone has obviously singled out Foxdale for an especial brand of terror.
Steve Kline is tough and resourceful, but has an empathy with both humans and horses which makes him a particularly attractive tough guy hero. He has the sort of can-do air to him which gives the reader confidence that things will work out, but makes you interested in how he does it. The other characters are all neatly drawn, and the whole thing is a thoroughly believable gallop through American barn life.
Kit Ehrman does write very well indeed about horses. She observes them without sentimentality, and she understands them. Chase is one of those horses who is hell on legs in the stable, but a dream once ridden, and particularly when jumping. It’s difficult to get horses realistically horsey: too often sentiment intrudes, or the horses are like action men with four legs: devoid of any personality save what the rider chooses to believe they’re like. For comparison, here’s a bit about Chase:
“I pulled Chase sharply to the left, kicked him in the ribs, and he plowed through the thick undergrowth and bounded up the hill. His hooves slipped on the rain-soaked leaves. I grabbed mane and clucked to him. As we neared the ridge, I felt him abruptly focus his attention. I squinted through the rain. Directly ahead stood a four-foot-high picket fence, its white planks gleaming in the darkness. Chase pricked his ears and extended his stride with enthusiasm...... When we reached the curb on the far side, I hopped off the gelding and led him onto the sidewalk. Chase snaked his neck around and tried to get a piece of my skin between his teeth.”
This is a very superior equine mystery indeed. I’m now going to download the others in the series.