Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Monday, mystery on January 8, 2018

Unbridled Murder (A Carson Stables Mystery) 
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (December 26, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496714084

After horse trainer and rancher Annie Carson visits a feedlot in eastern Washington, she is determined to save as many horses from slaughter as possible before hightailing it back home—until she discovers the sleazy owner seemingly trampled in his corral. With the fate of the feedlot herd in her hands, Annie must navigate unfamiliar territory while trying to track down a killer and solve an increasingly tangled mystery. But unfortunately for Annie, returning to the Olympic Peninsula alive will be trickier than she ever imagined.

Guest Post

Today we welcome author Leigh Hearon to StoreyBook Reviews and her insight into creating Annie, her sleuth for this series.


I realized I was taking a chance when I decided to make the protagonist in my cozy mystery series a horse trainer.

Annie Carson is a forty-something, single, independent horsewoman, who does not suffer fools lightly, if at all.  Until murder gets in the way, her life revolves around the care and training of her herd, and she is convinced the company of horses is pretty much all she requires to make her life complete.  Murder, of course, changes the equilibrium of her life, and also puts her in contact with new characters that by turn irritate, challenge, and often try to thwart her investigation.  On the plus side, one particular character pretty much sweeps her off her feet.  Still, there’s a lot of horsey stuff in the book.

When Reining In Murder, the first of the Carson Stables Mysteries, came out, I anticipated a lot of criticism from readers who were horse savvy.  Anyone who’s ever been around boarding stables will recall a barn diva who is dying to tell you the proper way to wrap a bandage, how your riding could improve, and what supplements your horse really needs.  The advice usually comes whether you asked for it or not.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  A few of these types weighed in, but not a lot.  And many readers who barely knew one end of a horse from another were actually grateful for the tidbits about horse care, training, and behavior that pepper the pages.  I found the response incredibly heartening.

I’ve been around horses all my life, and for the past twenty-five years have been fortunate enough to call four of them my own.  My herd now consists of Jolie Jeune Femme, a petite, sassy chestnut Saddlebred who will celebrate her 21st birthday next month, and Edward, a tall, strapping bay Thoroughbred who shows such sensitivity and gentleness that if he were a man, I’d marry him in a heartbeat.  I’m just your average rider but when it comes to pure besotted love for equines, I’m in the top percentile.  When I began the series, I’d hoped I could lure readers into my favorite world, and I’m now cautiously optimistic that I’ve succeeded.

In Unbridled Murder, the third in the series, Annie meets perhaps her greatest challenge—saving unwanted horses.  Edward, my Thoroughbred, comes from a feedlot, the typical way station to the slaughterhouse, and I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreaking conditions horses endure before being transported to an even more horrible place.  But Annie is nothing if not tenacious, and her unrelenting determination to save the horses wins out in the end.  But it’s an uphill fight, just as it is in real life.

I admire Annie.  She has an inner strength to meet life head on that I wish I could emulate more often.  I know I’ll never ride as well as she does.  And, as a private investigator in real life, I am in complete awe of her case resolution rate.  I should be so lucky to solve as many homicides as she has in one year alone.

She has flaws, of course, which some readers have pointed out as undesirable in a female heroine, while others have admired these same traits.  Annie freely speaks her mind, and can be a tad sarcastic if provoked.  Her temper is never far away from the surface.  She has little patience for people who don’t take life as seriously or responsibly as she does.  And deep down, Annie wonders if she’s capable of holding onto a serious relationship.  She never doubts her horses love and respect her, but she finds it difficult to imagine any human, particularly the male variety, capable of loving her for own, flawed self.

I’ve had a lot of fun letting Annie’s character develop over several mysteries.  She’ll never be perfect, of course.  But she’s learning how to be more tolerate of others, and willing to let others be imperfect without always exercising her opinion.  Horses probably will always take precedence in Annie’s life.  But if she continues to solve murders in her fictional world set on the Olympic Peninsula, she may end up liking that lesser species, homo sapiens, a lot more, too.

About the Author

Leigh Hearon began her own P.I. agency, Leigh Hearon Investigative Services, in 1992. Her cases have appeared on In the Dead of Night, Forensic Files, 48 Hours, Court TV, City Confidential, Unsolved MysteriesAmerica’s Most Wanted, and CBS Evening News with Connie Chung. Hearon was an avid rider of horses throughout her childhood. She currently has a Saddlebred mare, Jolie Jeune Femme, and enjoys watching Jolie and two rescue mares cavort on a fifty-five-acre farm she shares with her husband.

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January 3 – Queen of all She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

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January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

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January 12 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

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