–Leigh Hearon, author of “Reining In Murder” and “Saddle Up For Murder”
At one of my first book signings for my debut mystery, “Reining In Murder,” someone asked me if I was worried that I’d created a series that would difficult to sustain. It was a fair question.
I write cozy mysteries. My protagonist, Annie Carson, is a single 40-something woman who trains horses, rescues horses, and, as many readers have pointed out, gets along better with equines than humans. Annie also solves murders, much to the irritation of the local Sheriff, who’s been her friend since high school days.
Most of the action takes place on the Olympic Peninsula in a community that closely resembles my own. Just for the record, I live in a rural area where tractors determine the speed limit on country roads, most men sport red suspenders at the local café, and the post office closes between noon and one because there’s no one else to take over and after all, everyone’s entitled to eat lunch.
But back to the question. My answer, of course, was that I envisioned myriad ways in which the series could develop. For one, Annie has a love interest, the very handsome Marcus, who happens to live in Silicon Valley where his thriving software business keeps him much of the time. Murder certainly could occur within the seething hotbed of California high tech companies. But even without that budding romance, Annie has many ways in which to prove she’s a crackerjack sleuth without a badge or gun. In “Saddle Up for Murder,” next in the series, a murder takes place on her own ranch, and the proximity of the victim’s death as well as Annie’s passing acquaintance with the deceased quickly pull her into the investigation.
In the third book, “Unbridled Murder” (which I’m now writing), Annie travels to Eastern Washington to solve a series of murders after she’s called upon to negotiate the rescue of horses held in what is euphemistically called a “feedlot,” otherwise known as a kill pen. Feedlots are not fiction. It’s where too many unwanted horses end up before being carted off to Mexico or Canada, where slaughterhouses still exist.
And the fourth book….well, for almost 25 years, I’ve earned my living as a private investigator. So far, bits and pieces of my more notorious cases have ended up in every book. With such a rich history to draw upon, I can’t see that changing much.
True, not a lot of murder takes place in my own back yard. Where I live, most arrests are for drug, domestic disturbances, and petty crimes. Occasionally, a homicide will occur, which becomes “The Crime of the Century” in our local weekly newspaper. But just because I live in a relatively crime-free zone compared to my urban compatriots doesn’t mean that murder couldn’t take place here.
Think about it. To get to the Olympic Peninsula, most people take a charming ferry ride from Seattle or other points across the water. What a perfect place for a overboard murder to occur! And we have forests—dense, green, rain forests, where bodies easily could remain hidden for months, if not years, before an unsuspecting hiker comes across the remains. And mountains? We have a ton of them. Not to mention bears, cougars, coyote, and other feral animals that could force someone to jump off a cliff—unless it’s a human who forced the fall, of course.
And there’s the farming community. Thriving, well-tended organic farms are everywhere and we locals take full advantage of the produce. But who’s to say that a hideous death might occur when a John Deere suddenly goes rogue?
In short, I am firmly convinced that Annie’s adventures as a sleuth could continue well onto a series that stretches on indefinitely. The Sheriff may not like Annie’s interfering ways, but she’s already proven to be a pretty good detective on her own. No chance on her joining the local police force, however—not when she has so many good horses to ride. And a very handsome suitor who currently lives 1,200 miles away.
SADDLE UP FOR MURDER
A Carson Stables Mystery, Book 2
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
On sale October 25, 2016!
Available for pre-order now!
At first, horse trainer and Carson Stables owner Annie Carson blames the random losses of local livestock on feral animals stalking Olympic Peninsula county’s farms and ranches. But when one of her own flock is found savagely slaughtered, it gets personal. Then it turns dangerous, when Annie discovers the body of a young woman hanging in her new hay barn. Suddenly, she’s up to her neck in complicated mysteries—one involving her private life. But her sleuthing skills aren’t exactly welcomed by the sheriff. And as she uncovers a clue to the killer’s identity, Annie fears she’s leading a deadly trail straight to her door.