BASKET OF TROUBLE is the latest in the Claire Hanover
Mystery series about a lady
who prepares gift hampers. Coming to it as a new reader I
straight away liked Claire, who is bringing one of her
baskets to celebrate the opening of her brother Charley's
new riding stables. Charley's stable in Durango fell foul
of the recession but Claire suggested he and his wife sell
up and buy a place near her in Colorado Springs, where
there is still tourist trade and good trail riding. She
desperately hopes she gave the right advice.
A BASKET OF TROUBLE is in store, for after Charley's
described the Garden of the Gods Park, an elderly resident
accuses him of letting his horses foul public footpaths.
There's also another trail-riding business locally.
Charley's come to agreement over such issues with the city
management. His wife Jessica gives horse-related therapy to
young people with special needs and Claire volunteers to
help with therapy next day.
Next morning however a wrangler named Kyle is found dead in
a stable with a distressed horse, a spirited animal named
Gunpowder. Charley and Claire don't want to think that
Gunpowder trampled the man to death, but there seems no
other explanation. The police order them to cancel trail
rides, the parents of a therapy boy withdraw him for
safety, Kyle's family is upset and threatens a lawsuit, and
the fledgling business seems doomed.
Alongside the official investigation we then see Claire
stubbornly asking everyone who might have disliked Kyle, a
local man of Hispanic background. When the coroner requests
a search for a murder weapon, she feels justified. The
tension mounts as characters get steamed up
and the hunt spreads. This is a well-plotted story, and the
environs feel fresh and outdoorsy, from the picnic basket
rides to Pikes Peak in the background.
The author Beth Groundwater
has clearly spent time around horses and the therapy
classes are well described. I liked that the farrier was
female, and no detail is too small to be used as a clue. I
ended up with great sympathy for poor Gunpowder, who
didn't deserve the treatment he got, and admiration for
Claire, who sticks by her family while making up Broncos
gift baskets. Horse lovers and mystery fans will enjoy A
BASKET OF TROUBLE.
When gift basket designer Claire Hanover saddles up for the
opening event of her brother Charley's new riding stable,
the last thing she expects is for a death to ruin the
festivities. But before the grand opening can even begin
Kyle Mendoza, one of the stable hands, is found dead in a
horse stall. At first it appears that the horse trampled
him, until it's discovered someone killed Kyle before
dragging him into the stall.
Charley's troubles worsen when a rival stable owner starts
wrangling up his clients and Kyle's family decides to sue
him for negligence. Claire is determined to find the real
murderer before her brother's business is put out to
and before the killer strikes again.