Publication Date: August 1, 2013
In Blood Hoax by Patti Brooks, Ike Cherny’s near-fiancée has disappeared. Tuleigh left behind a GPS with 43 saved destinations titled with men’s names. Dealing with the boss’s rebellious and reckless daughter and also with their prize-winning show horse that siring foals aren’t living up to the standards of his breed, is leaving little time to follow the leads. Is Tuleigh in danger or, as an officer suggested, was she just not ready to get married? Will the substandard foals take Beckmere Farms down? Ike’s job and love life look doomed to fail. Can he find out what happened before all is lost?
The author’s publicist, G.K. Zachary, gave me an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) of this novel in exchange for my review.
Blood Hoax is very much a novel in the spirit of Dick Francis. Brooks gives us an insider look at a high-end horse farm but also lays out a very complex and intricate story line with Ike Cherny as a unifying character for subplots. There is a confidence to the character that the woman he loves is missing; his life and job go on. He looks for Tuleigh, following the GPS, whenever he can slip away. There’s a desperation in that; he is practical enough to realize that his visits won’t really lead anywhere but hopeful enough to travel as far as he must to not miss out on any scrap that might help.
Brooks hops around quite a lot in the story line. Ike has a lot on his plate. Instead of becoming confused, Brooks manages the story so that all plotlines run simultaneously, and there are no great breaks in focus. Ike must deal with K.D. and then he’s out to look for Tuleigh. He must deal with the scheming Pippa and then return to doing what he can do. He has a tie to the farm in Annie, a horse that he deeply loves, so the reader suspects that he will always come back.
The female characters in the work are somewhat formulaic. K.D. and Pippa use their sexuality as a weapon. K.D. has a father willing to make excuses for her. She’s not an especially convincing liar, but her father is willing to damage his business to keep from having to deal with her tantrums and manipulations. Pippa sleeps with Ike the moment she meets him and is angry when he won’t take her seriously. Billie is desperately in love with Ike and has been drooling after him for years. She holds him mostly as an unattainable ideal but allows Pippa to torture her with the fact that she and Ike had sex. These women, while in the story frequently, are not focal points. Ike is the star and Brooks writes him and his quirks exceptionally well. When the ending of the Tuleigh story does come, it’s interesting but rather anti-climatic as the story has already fully headed into another somewhat more interesting direction.
I don’t know anything about horses or their world beyond the pages of fiction but it seems Brooks does. She gives the feeling of someone not only very knowledgeable, but that has worked every aspect of a horse farm. The information she gives regarding horse breeding and a sperm conspiracy speaks of her knowledge while assuming that the reader isn’t a complete idiot and is able to pick up the spirit and meaning without a large amount of scientific exposition weighing it down.
Blood Hoax is a very solid and interesting cozy mystery. If you are a person who likes the work of Dick Francis and Nora Roberts (her romance stories that are more plot-driven), you will like Blood Hoax by Patti Brooks. Pick it up and let me know what you think.
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