I’ve always loved horses, but the topic of equine rescue was a real eye-opener for me. Frankly I was immersed in the glamorous world of shows, polo matches and competitive racing and oblivious to the grisly fate suffered by far too many horses whose owners abdicate responsibility for them. I soon found that the Internet was awash with sad tales and dismal statistics. My fantasies about cherished creatures like Trigger, Silver and Buttermilk clashed markedly with reality. With the help of my best friend Babette Croy, I decided to do something about that.
My name is Perri Morgan. I lead a relatively dull existence in Grand Falls, Virginia, crafting custom leashes, collars, bridles and saddles for dogs and horses. “Rescues” touch a special place in my heart since after my parents’ death, I became the product of the foster care system. I know all too well what it means to long for acceptance and a forever home. In fact, my modest spread boasts two retired military dogs, one entitled feline and an ornery pygmy goat, all of whom were discarded and subsequently re-homed with me.
My community is an affluent one filled with Macmansions, lavish landscaping, and well-intentioned neighbors leading busy lives. Many of them enjoy polo, horse and dog shows and competitive riding. Some like Babette also have a big heart and genuinely care about less fortunate creatures. My pal is passionate. In fact, one might call Babette a social justice warrior willing to put herself and her pocketbook on the line to help animals.
Unfortunately, even good intentions can clash when property values and profits collide. Our town council suddenly proposed to rezone land and evict the Cavalry Farms Rescue facility. Tempers flared, expletives flew, and our normally tranquil community experienced a galloping case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome. With Babette leading the charge, several of us mobilized and formed a protest group, appropriately dubbed NEIGH. Nothing militant, just a band of concerned citizens with something to say. Our ace in the hole was the public scrutiny provided by my romantic partner investigative hottie, Wing Pruett. Grand Falls prided itself on a liberal reputation and shunned any bad publicity. I was cautiously optimistic about our chances until disaster stuck: I came face to face with the bloodied corpse of Babette’s assistant, draped across her employer’s bed!
Little did we know that Ethel, an outwardly shy and unassuming person was in fact a cunning confidence woman and blackmailer who prowled around horse shows, polo matches and other haunts of the wealthy seeking scandal. Most of my friends and customers would pay handsomely to shield their secrets. Rumors of financial and personal indiscretions abounded in the closed confines of the show circuit. There were whispers, winks, and nods but they were seldom voiced. Riders, trainers, and owners mixed freely, often too freely, at social events. If Ethel violated that implicit code of silence, any number of victims might react violently.
My presence at shows is routine. Nobody even notices me. I’m just a normal part of the scenery selling leather products and dispensing advice. To salvage Babette’s reputation, I vowed to leverage that access and search for the killer. Little did I know that a sound dose of horse sense could have saved me from danger.
PERRI’S FOOL PROOF CRUSTLESS SPINACH QUICHE
I’m not much of a cook but this dish is foolproof and GUARANTEED to wow your guests.
INGREDIENTS: 8 eggs, 1 cup cooked spinach, ¼ cup of pastry flour, one half stick of sweet butter (melted), ½ cup of milk or half and half; one cup of shredded cheese (any kind).
INSTRUCTIONS: whisk eggs w/ half and half, and melted butter, gradually fold in flour and cheese. Line bottom of greased quiche pan with spinach, pour other mixture over it. Pop in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool before serving. Prepare for compliments.
When Perri’s BFF Babette hosts a meeting of Fairfax County’s affluent animal lovers to save a local horse rescue farm, the agenda gets sidetracked by the discovery of a corpse in the master bedroom. Everyone present is a suspect, including Perri’s main squeeze, Wing Pruett—Washington, DC’s sexiest reporter.
While Perri scours local horse and dog shows hoping to unmask the killer, she uncovers bad manners, infidelity, and low-level crime in her hunt for the killer—but what she can’t find are grounds for murder. When the killer strikes again and she gets a warning to stop her sleuthing, Perri has to muster all her training—and all her allies, human and animal alike—to make it out of the ring alive.
Praise for Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons Mysteries
“Reminiscent of the comedy-mystery movies of the thirties…An entertaining first entry into the Boston Uncommons Mystery series.” —New York Journal of Books on Swann Dive
“Highly entertaining . . . I can’t wait for the next book in the series!” —Jaye Roycraft, author of Rainscape