Chasing Cans
by Laura Crum

Perseverance Press, 2008. ISBN 1880284944.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 03/26/2008

Fiction: Mystery

Laura Crum is a skillful writer of mysteries with horse and horse breeding themes. She creates a fine balance between mystery and horsy information, without the overkill that I have found in some of the recent books by Rita Mae Brown.

Gail McCarthy, Crum's protagonist, has become a stay-at-home mom after being involved in numerous other mysteries in her career as a horse vet. Chasing Cans, a slang term for barrel racing, is used this time as the too-focused pursuit of career at the expense of family life. Our hero is close to self righteous and smug as she sings her praise of her perfect life with her perfect baby and her perfect husband. Perfect, except for the suspicious death of her neighbor, a barrel racing trainer. I was relieved when late in the book, Doctor McCarthy admits to being temporarily frustrated and even bored with her Mama job.

Once again, Gail finds herself unofficially helping her friend, Detective Jeri Ward, in her investigation of a possible crime. It is Gail's determination and her intuition that keep the investigation moving along with plenty of suspects and some danger to herself. Could there have been drugs involved? Were the ex-husband or ex-lover suspects? How about some of the owners who felt their horses had been badly handled?

Not only does Crum quickly involve her reader in an interesting plot, but she backlights the tale with vivid descriptions of her garden and the Santa Cruz county landscapes. Chasing Cans is a enjoyable read.

Laura Crum is a 4th generation Santa Cruz County resident who is a horsewoman and author. She lives with her husband, son and a large menagerie of animals. Visit her website.

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