Yes, I am reviewing our own Laura's newest mystery. I have been reading and writing mysteries since my first short story in Highlights, "Dusty's Disappearance," was published in 1984 (I was only two years old. And if you believe that I have a sound, bombproof horse to sell you.) Sixteen Nancy Drew and ten other mysteries for kids later, including the Edgar nominated Shadow Horse, I am still excited to discover a new mystery author. Even though Laura is a friend I have gotten to know via blogging and the internet, I had never read any of her books in the Gail McCarthy series. Shame on me!
Laura writes in her Author's Note "Many people have asked if Gail is "me" (others just assume it.) The answer is mixed." Well, I will admit right away, the best thing for me about Barnstorming is despite the fact that I live in Virginia and Gail/Laura lives in California, as I was reading I felt as if I was spending time with Laura, her horses, her friends and her family. I have only been in California once, but Laura's descriptions helped me be there. "The eucalyptus trees were light and airy, compared to redwoods or oaks. They were slender, towering high, moving in the slightest breeze. Light slanted between them; the ground was carpeted with long shreds of their pinkish, peeling bark, dried lance-like yellow leaves, and their small hard blue cones."
Descriptions like this are better than a photograph to someone who loves words. The main character, Gail, (like Laura) also does not hesitate to express her opinions and her love for horses and family. And of course, Laura gets the horse details right in her book. Something not all writers do, which irks the heck out of people like me.
The mystery also moved along nicely (I won't give anything away) with suspense in the right places. " . . the bright red blood splotching the small hole in her chest gave the answer. My heart pounded; I could feel a strange rushing in my ears." And Jeri Ward, a detective with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, would make a nice spin-off character.
So next stormy day, when you can't ride or garden, and you want to curl up with a good mystery, Barnstorming is the perfect pick.
Next blog I will review another mystery Scrapbook of Secrets which is as far from California and horses as I can get!