Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barnstorming by Laura Crum

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!


Laura Crum said...

Thanks for the nice review, Alison. Its interesting that you feel the book is sort of like hanging out with me. My real life best friend has read all the books from the beginning, and she says that the protagonist (Gail) seemed like a much more consciously created "character" in the earlier books and much more like "me" in the later books. So I guess the books have become more autobiographical. Can't say if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Though I know I never found a fellow equestrian shot through the heart on my many trail rides (!)

Jami Davenport said...

I just finished Barnstorming, too, and I LOVED IT! But then I love all of Laura's books. I'm somewhat sad that this might be the last one, but I plan on picking up the backlist for my Kindle and reading them in order from the first one since it's been years since I've read some of them.

Francesca Prescott said...

Laura, Which is the first book of the series? I dont like to read electronic books but would love to read your series in paperback.

xx Cesca

Laura Crum said...

Cesca--The first book is Cutter, and it and the second book, Hoofprints, can be bought in paperback from Amazon--very cheaply. Unfortunately, books three through eight, which includes most folks favorite titles, are only available in hardcover (and now Kindle). The last four books are availble from the publisher in paperback. (The woes of a long-running but not wildly popular series.) I hear you about the electronic thing--I like to read paperbacks, too.

Jami--Thanks for the kind words. I'm really glad you've enjoyed the series. I just finished editing Slickrock to get it up on Kindle and darned if I didn't actually enjoy that one. And I know all you authors know that its hard to be pleased with your old titles (!) Seems like all you ever notice are the flaws.

Francesca Prescott said...

Laura, I tried to order from amazon but the shipping costs to Switzerland are absolutely insane!!!! Almost 50 dollars!!! We'll have to find another solution :)

Laura Crum said...

Cesca--I don't blame you at all for not wanting to pay fifty dollars(!). Let me see what it would cost for me to ship you a book. Maybe it would be cheaper.