Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dark Horse by Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is a very well known author of great, intense fiction novels. She has written many great, bestselling thrillers such as Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes, A Thin Dark Line, Guilty as Sin, Night Sins, Cry Wolf, Dark Paradise, Still Waters, Lucky's Lady, Kill the Messenger, and my favorite, Dark Horse. Dark Horse is a New York Times Bestseller, and if you take the time to read this book, you will know why. Tami Hoag loves to ride horses, and owns some of her own. She has brought some of her real life into this intriguing story.

The book starts out like a play, in the Palm Beach Equestrian Center at sunset. The scene is about a girl named Erin standing at a back gate, waiting for someone. It says that she is nervous, and that she thinks that she is there for something secret, and she thinks that her life may change tonight. She is not aware of it, but a camera is taping her. It is taping her as a rusty van pulls up, and a masked man exits it. Erin screams, and tries to run away. He grabs her by the arm and they wrestle around for awhile. When he finally gets control of her, he jams a needle into Erin's arm. The masked man shoves Erin into the rusty van, and then drives away.

An ex-cop, Elena Estes, lives on her friend's horse farm. When she was a cop, she was in a shootout that ended up being her fault, and she was suspended from the force. One day, she is approached at the horse farm by a young girl named Molly Seabright, claiming that her sister, Erin Seabright, is missing. When Elena asks her where she had heard that she was an ex-cop, Molly shows her an add in a horse magazine. Elena is very upset that her friend put her name and picture in a magazine, because a lot of people still blame her for the death of a cop. The cop died in the shootout that she caused. Molly tells Elena that she went to the cops, but they will not let her write out a report because she is too young, and they need her parents to come in and do it. Molly tells Elena that her stepfather is glad that her sister is gone, and her mother will not do anything about it because her mother does whatever her stepfather tells her to do. Although Elena does not want to be involved, she is intrigued by the young girl's brightness, and the love that she has for her sister. It seems that little Molly is the only one that cares what happens to her older sister.

Elena Estes decides to do some investigating without telling Molly. She does not want to get Molly all excited over nothing. She decides to stop in at the stable that Molly said her older sister, Erin works at. When she gets there, she buys some clothes to blend in with the crowd better, and enters the stable where Erin worked. She asks questions to some of the employees, and learns some interesting facts. There is a fat girl working in the stables, who already has taken over Erin's job. The fat girl, Jill Monroe, tells Elena that Erin left town for a different job. When Elena tells Molly this, Molly claims that Erin would never leave town without at least telling her. Elena believes Molly, and decides to investigate further.

When Elena starts asking around and asking more questions, she finds out that Erin's employer is involved in some horse insurance scams, and that he has been before also. His horses mysteriously die, and then he gets to claim the insurance money on them, or so people think. The cops and insurance investigators never can catch him at it. If he is killing the horses, he is doing a great job of covering it up. Elena starts to think that maybe Erin Seabright witnessed her boss killing a horse, so her employer killed her.

Elena has a lot of unanswered questions, and many different ideas as of who could have killed or abducted Erin Seabright. It may have been her stepfather who received videos requesting ransom, but he chose not to tell anybody about them. He claims that Erin is just trying to get money from his family. It may have been Erin's stepbrother, who was also Erin's boyfriend. It also may have been Jill Monroe, who was very jealous of the beautiful girl. Or, it could have been any one of the stable hands that she works around.

Elena cannot answer all the questions herself, even with the help of little Molly Seabright. Elena finds help in a handsome man named Detective Landry. Join Elena and Landry on their journey to find out what happened to the young and beautiful Erin Seabright.

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