“Dead Blow” – Horseshoer Mystery Series Book 2 by Lisa Preston

If you appreciate a cracking good yarn with a western flavor I can highly recommend “Dead Blow”. This second in the Horseshoer series is set in Oregon’s Cascade country and Rainey Dale is making her reputation as a first-rate horseshoer who is not just good at her trade, she also shows up as promised and on time. As the only female horseshoer in the area, Rainey is still considered somewhat of an oddity, partly because of her gender, but also because she knows horses and their feet and legs. When she goes up into the high country to shoe a new client’s herd, she stumbles across some evidence that suggests the death of her client’s husband might have been more sinister than a tractor “accident”. Everyone in town knew the dead man wasn’t faithful to his wife but did she know and do something about it? Or did someone else have reason to want him out of the picture?

Rainey is a colorful character with a droll, down home sense of humor that had me grinning snd laughing at her running internal dialogue and her combination words that have now been added to my lexicon, e.g. “confussed” (confused + fussy). Makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Here are some samplings of Rainey’s musings:

Referring to the old style tricycle tractors with two small wheels centered in front: “It’s real clear the plans for these were drawn up by none other than Lucifer.” And thinking about the odd bits of knowledge stored in her brain; “It was like Monopoly money, can’t keep it, might as well shell it out.” And descriptions such as “the floor scrapings in my brain.” and “flies buzzed an out of tune, out of time symphony.” Or talking about a neighbor, “If Jean Thurmond doesn’t boil that youngest boy-child of hers in oil before he makes ten, it’ll be news.” These are but a few of the abundant gems of pithy dialogue in this tale of intrigue.

Author Lisa Preston is a skilled wordsmith who conveys her message with the clarity of a keen-eyed observer and a sharp wit. Her descriptive phrasing is delivered with such grace and style that you feel as if you’re right there with the characters. It’s easy to picture yourself sitting astride a horse as it picks its way down a rocky ravine. The scene is so authentic you catch your breath when the horse’s hooves slide on a patch of loose gravel and then the tension in your shoulders magically disappears as your mount clambers up out of the arroyo and back onto level ground.

Anyone who appreciates the written word will be impressed with this beautifully written work. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Lisa Preston. Five stars.

Many thanks to Net Galley and Skyhorse Publishing for furnishing an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) in exchange for an honest review. The publication date for “Dead Blow” is November 5, 2019.

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