|Kit Ehrman seems destined to step into Dick Francisís shoes, or should I say, riding boots, in this series starring Steve Clines, a young man who works well with horses and solves crimes as he works out his own troubled past.
Ehrmanís first book At Risk introduced Clines who dropped out of college to work in show barns when a long secret truth is discovered. Though his jobs are menial, his responsibilities are often great as in this venture when he works the night shift on an extensive breeding farm and has to learn to deliver thoroughbreds while he tries to pick up clues to the disappearance of the previous man to hold this job, the brother of a friend.
Bruce Claremont suddenly called in sick one night and was never seen again. Steve moves into Bruceís apartment hoping he can figure out his fate. The first night on the job he is nearly run over by a phantom truck while trying to stop a fire in one of the barns. His employer, Deidre Nash, is a veterinarian who has a horror of barn fires having lost her fiancť and several prize horses in an act of arson years earlier. There was a rash of fires then and she fears it is beginning once more.
While doing his rounds, Steve encounters the anomaly of quarantine for horses from Florida but finds they are housed in the same barn as the family horses. Maddie, who has the most experience delivering foals, is supposed to be instructing him on the birth process but would rather focus on her own hormones. This leads to clashes with another hand who considers her his property. There are rumors that this same hothead had problems with Bruce Claremont. Is he responsible for his disappearance?
At the same time Steve is drawn towards Bruceís sister, Corey, while his own girlfriend deserves attention and wants him to stop the investigation. There are far too many secrets, jealousies and obsessions in this place and Steve is determined to solve what he can.
Ehrmanís characters are believable; Steveís overactive hormones are appropriate since he is only twenty-two, a bit young for the usual adult investigator and too old for the Hardy boys set. The setting is well researched; however, there may be a bit too much description of the birthing process for some tastes. I donít actually intend to deliver a foal after reading this, but now Iíve learned how itís done. Good dialogue and well written action sequences make this series one Iíll add to my list.