I had never read anything by J. Carson Black so when this book was suggested as a group read in I Love Mysteries, it gave me a great opportunity reason to try her out. I'm glad I did! This book was a fun read in what promises to be a fun series.
Maggie O'Neil is a probation officer in Tombstone AZ. Her fiance has taken off for Nashville to make his fame and fortune while her father is romancing the beautiful owner of the next ranch over. Someone is randomly killing horses in the area making her worry for her own gelding, Little Wing. Her best probationer is missing. Things are not going exactly the way Maggie would like them too. When Maggie finds her probationer dead, things just get worse. Knowing he was doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow, Maggie wants to find out what happened.
One of the aspects of this book that I really enjoyed was the horse culture. The story is firmly rooted in the life of raising and training horses. That was quite interesting to me. I love the descriptions of the area also. I've never been to that part of Arizona but it felt quite real. Most of the characters, main and minor, felt quite real.
Most of the characters but not all and that's one of the reasons I couldn't give this book 4 star. There were 2 characters in particular that felt like they were only there to further a stereotype. There was an evil preacher and a backward homeschooled boy. While all the other characters had some depth and reality to them, these two felt like cardboard cutouts that were stuck in because it's popular to make fun of both ministers and homeschoolers these days. The story would have been much better without forcing these two characters in.
The other problem I had was that the heroine did some pretty stupid things that I doubt a person with any law enforcement training would do. She just didn't show good sense quite often. I realize many stories would never happen if the characters acted logically but it was a bit too often in this story.
Those two issues aside, Maggie is a fun heroine that I would love to read more about.