Mallory Martin, like so many Ozarkers who leave the area as young adults, returns midlife. In her case, she leaves behind a broken marriage and a career as a legal nurse consultant in St. Louis to fix up her parents’ old farm and start a horse rescue. She loves the new life she’s carved out for herself in fictional Hillspring, Arkansas. Her rescue is not necessarily thriving financially, but she and the horses and her devoted volunteers get a lot out of it, and she has big plans for expansion, including offering riding lessons.
But it all comes crashing down when her neighbor–the snooty Albert, who runs a champion horse breeding barn–is found murdered and Mallory finds herself the chief suspect. Drawing on her own professional background, Mallory launches an investigation to clear her name, which brings her into conflict with the sheriff (her old friend from high school) and draws her closer to Albert’s surviving son. Along the way, she uncovers potential suspects ranging from unhinged other neighbors to Albert’s girlfriend, who may or may not be as bereaved as she wants to appear. What could possibly go wrong?
This is a fun debut cozy written by local author Amber Camp. Though Hillspring is not a real town, it’s pretty clearly a stand-in for our neighboring Eureka Springs. If you’re local to the area, you’ll likely enjoy all the familiar little details, from the complicated logistics of parking in
Eureka Hillspring to a character dreading wading into the grass for the inevitable swarm of ticks and chiggers. And if you’re not a local, be assured that the setting is quite vividly depicted. (Berryville didn’t get mentioned, but I’m pretty sure we and the Kings River are alluded to when Mallory contemplates “going across the river” for another 30 minutes to buy feed. I got a good chuckle out of that because if you live here, regardless of which side of the county, you’ve done some variation of those driving computations.)
In fact, there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments in the book, and overall, I found the cast of characters to be likable and the plot immensely compelling. This book is a real page-turner. I did figure out the killer long before Mallory, but it’s a pleasant, lively journey along the way.
If you love horse-themed cozies–or like me, you just really like horses and maybe spent a lot of time reading Saddle Club books once upon a time–you’ll also really enjoy the four-legged characters. The horses and donkey at Mallory’s rescue all have their own distinctive personalities that lend a lot of charm and color to the story.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Amanda Flower and Mollie Cox Bryan.
This is the first book in the Horse Rescue Mystery series.
Are you a fan of cozies? Do you love horses? Who’s your favorite local author? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on this item or to place it on hold.
2 thoughts on “Amber Camp’s Canter with a Killer”
Loved this book. Loved the plot twists! Can’t wait for the next book in her series!
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Yes I’m excited to see what comes next! Thanks so much for commenting, Kristy!