Friday, April 20, 2012

Barnstorming by Laura Crum

Laura Crum's twelfth mystery to feature equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy, Barnstorming, is a mystery involving horses and murder. But, it's also a story about mid-life decisions, and having the courage to face life head-on.

At fifty, Gail McCarthy has decisions to make. She tells her own story in first person, present tense. She was once an equine veterinarian with a passion for work. But, she took ten years off to raise and homeschool her son, Mac. Now that her husband, Blue, has inherited enough money for them to live on, she has a tough decision. What does she want to do with her life? Blue retired happily. Does she want to go back to her job as a vet? Does she want to just enjoy life with her husband, son, and horses? Or is there something else?

For Gail, those decisions can be reached on horseback as she rides the trails near her house. But, those trails have not been so friendly to riders lately. One man sics his dog on them. Someone is blocking the trails. And, some of the residents in the new subdivision near the woods have made it plain they don't like horses or riders in the backyards. And, when one of Gail's acquaintances is shot out in the woods, soon after Gail met her on the trails, the woods and trails seem more dangerous than ever. Did someone target Jane, or is someone targeting women riding their horses on the trails?

Gail turns all her information over to the investigating police officer. As a former vet with numerous friends in the local horse community, Gail uncovers a great deal of information that she passes on. She's afraid. She's angry. She loves those trails and her horses. And, she's resolved to take a stand. "I'm not standing still for this evil. I'm fighting."

For those not interested in horses or the trails through the woods, Barnstorming might feel as if it drags. Others will find an engrossing story of an evil that invades a close-knit community, and a woman determined to fight back, not allowing fear to rule her life.

Laura Crum's Author's Note in this story is fascinating in itself. She informs readers that it's quite possible this will be the last book in the series. She discusses the relationship between Gail and the author, the similarities in their lives, and the differences. The author, like her character, may be moving on to another stage in life after fifty. She allows the readers to observe some of that thinking process in the course of the mystery. And, that process makes Barnstorming a richer, deeper story than it would be if it was just a mystery involving horses.

Laura Crum's website is

Barnstorming by Laura Crum. Perseverance Press. 2012. ISBN 9781564745088 (paperback), 192p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book, hoping I would review it.


Rosemary said...

Lesa, this sounds interesting - but I must admit I am getting just a tiny bit fed up with books that handily allow their characters to inherit enough money to let them doodle about however they like! If it's not money, it's houses - granny or great-aunt somebody or other leaving them a lovely cottage in her will. What do you think?

Lesa said...

I wish I was one of those characters, Rosemary! That's funny. I never really thought of it, except for Elizabeth Duncan's series set in Wales. I love that series, but she went from being a manicurist to inheriting a house and the money to buy an old mansion and renovate it. You're right, though. A great deal of convenience involved here.

Rosemary said...

Yes, and it happens in Alexander McCall Smith (isobel Dalhousie inherits a mere £12 million from her mother), Joan Medlicott (one of the ladies inherits a great big house so all of them can go and live in it), Jennifer Chiavernini (old lady inherits huge family mansion and turns it into quilting retreat). Miranda James (hero inherits house from aunt) - I could go on! I know it helps the plot along but sometimes it gets a bit frustrating!

Lesa said...


When you list it like that, you definitely have a point! I don't read some of those authors, and didn't realize how much of that happens.

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