I really enjoyed the first book in this series, about a rather cantankerous horse trainer who genuinely prefers the company of her animals to that of other people. I empathize. This one didn’t succeed quite as thoroughly with me, but it was still enjoyable.
Some things bothered me just a little. One of my benchmarks for any book in which horses – or, really, any animals – appear is whether they’re given names. That’s easily achieved here – there are lots of animals, and they’re all named and have at least some indication of personality, so: excellent. Also, the breeds of dogs and horses are always given: bonus points. Another benchmark, though, is what kind of pronouns are used in referring to these animals. And that’s odd in this book, because it’s inconsistent. In the space of two sentences, both “her” and “it” are used to refer to one of Annie’s horses. Considering the book is told solidly from Annie’s point of view, and considering Annie’s life’s work and passion, I found the occasional “it” jarring. I would never refer to a mare as “it”, and I doubt this character would.
What bothers me a lot more are the spelling errors that litter the book, and which I just checked via Google Books: they’re apparently still in the published manuscript. “Discrete” is used incorrectly at least four times – “Annie trained a discrete glare in Dan’s direction”. “Annie discretely made a U-turn”. Et cetera. And then “everyone hussled inside” – ouch. Annie pours through a newspaper. The fire in the first book “preempted the horses’ hasty removal” – should that be “prompted”? It’s all very depressing.
More to the point, I was kept pretty confused by the murder victim and her circle of friends. In one place they seem to be described as very young, perhaps sixteen – but then there is a reference that makes them sound older. And then they sound like children again. Someone mentions “talking to sullen adolescents”. Finally they’re specified as “people who are barely out of their teens” and then “four irate twenty-one-year-olds”, but even then they are written as often extremely juvenile.
The plot was a bit predictable. Annie’s character seemed a bit less clear this time out than last time. I don’t know. I have a feeling if this had been the first book I’d read by Leigh Hearon, there wouldn’t have been a second.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.