My Last Book

by Laura Crum
My 12th book has been published—in 2012, how appropriate. The cover is by the very talented Peter Thorpe, who has done most of my covers. I think he did a wonderful job on this one. My son actually came up with the concept of a barn being “struck by lightning” as a play on the title, and Pete did a fabulous job of painting this image and doing the lettering.
“Barnstorming” takes my protagonist, equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy, into some new territory, both as she solves the mystery and in her personal life. Those who have read the series know that Gail starts out in “Cutter” as an eager 31 year old vet who is one year into her career, with a new boyfriend and a new horse. In the first ten installments in the series she ages one year in each book and goes through some important life changes. By “Chasing Cans”, the 10th book, she is 41 and the mother of a young child. (and still has to solve a dramatic mystery on the ranch next door—the woes of an amateur sleuth).
In my last two books Gail ages five years per book, as I wanted to bring her closer to my own age (I’m 54) and write about some themes that interest me now. “Barnstorming” has a lot to do with solitary trail riding and the challenges that come up. And since it is a mystery, Gail faces the challenge that I think all of us solo trail riders secretly wonder about. What if we met a truly nasty person out on the trail? What if that person had a gun?
All my books are very much based on things I’ve seen and done, and all the horses in my stories (and the other critters) are as true to life as I can make them. They behave like real horses (most of them are modeled on my own horses); they don’t talk, or solve crimes, or defend their master from the bad guys (all of which I have seen and winced at in various novels). Sunny, my little palomino trail horse, has a starring role in “Barnstorming”, as he did in “Going, Gone”.
I will admit that I have been fortunate enough never to have met anyone truly nasty on my many solo trail rides, but I have met some odd/tough looking sorts and certainly had my moments of wondering “what if”, which gave me the seed of an idea for this story. I’m hoping folks will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I’m currently in the process of getting my older titles available on Kindle, which is taking me awhile, because I don’t have electronic copies of the first ones (written twenty years ago). So by the end of April that job should be done. In the meantime, here’s a list of my published mysteries, with a short synopsis of each book. The first eight books (all out of print) will be available on Kindle for 99 cents each. The first four are up there now (Cutter, Hoofprints, Roughstock and Roped) and I have every intention of getting the next four up there shortly.
I’m very excited at the thought that these books may become readily available again. I put so much of my life into writing them (twenty years), and the stories are not only good mysteries (or I think so, anyway), but also reflect a lot of my thoughts about life…and horses, of course. I hope some of you will give them a try.
Here’s the list (I can hardly believe I’ve actually written this many books):

CUTTER: Veterinarian Gail McCarthy thought cutting horse trainer Casey Brooks was being paranoid with his stories of poisoned horses and sabotage, but when his blue roan mare returns riderless and Casey is found dead, she isn’t so sure.
HOOFPRINTS: Gail McCarthy is a horse vet with a hectic schedule, not to mention a horse, a new boyfriend, and a house payment, and her life is more than a little disrupted when she finds two dead bodies in the course of a routine call to a well known reined cowhorse barn.
ROUGHSTOCK: While attending the annual Winter Equine Seminar at Lake Tahoe, Gail finds one of her fellow horse vets dead, and another accused of his murder. The trail leads back to Gail’s hometown, and through the twists and turns of the team roping world, plunging Gail into a confrontation with an unlikely killer.
ROPED: A stalker haunting the ranch of an old friend creates a harrowing personal drama for Gail as she struggles to sort out a mystery involving animal rights and a bitter feud—and win a team roping event at the same time.
SLICKROCK: Gail embarks on a solitary pack trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with just her two horses and her dog for company. All too soon she stumbles upon a soon-to-be-dead man, and is drawn into the whirlwind of nefarious events that precipitated the tragedy.
BREAKAWAY: Faced with a depression and some big life changes, Gail struggles to find the right path as she is confronted with the strangest mystery she has ever heard of.
HAYBURNER: Gail is called out to treat injured horses when the biggest boarding stable in the county catches fire. When a second barn fire occurs nearby, Gail finds herself in the middle of the search to catch the arsonist—before any more horses or people die.
FORGED: Gail’s horseshoer is shot in her barnyard, while shoeing her horse, embroiling Gail in a dangerous attempt to capture an elusive killer.
MOONBLIND: Gail’s cousin Jenny, who runs a Thoroughbred layup farm, complains of mysterious villains who are out to destroy her business—and harm her horses. While trying to support Jenny, Gail discovers this threat is all too real.
CHASING CANS: Legendary barrel racing trainer Lindee Stone is killed when a horse flips over backwards with her. The cops are calling it an accident, but Gail witnessed the wreck and thinks there is something fishy about it.
GOING, GONE: While on a vacation in the Sierra foothills, Gail finds that her old boyfriend, Lonny Peterson, is accused of murdering a local auctioneer. In an attempt to save Lonny, Gail ends up in a harrowing horseback race with a ruthless killer.

And just released– BARNSTORMING: In which Gail, on a solitary trail ride, discovers a fellow equestrian shot through the heart, and embarks on an intense hunt to discover why violence is haunting her local trails.

Readers sometimes ask me which books are my favorites, or which I think are the best. In a way, this is like asking a mom which child is her favorite—it’s a hard question to answer. I can tell you that Slickrock (5th book) is the overall reader favorite, and that readers either love Breakaway (6th book) or they hate it—its my “darkest” book. I really like both of these books. I can also say– after working on my early books to get them up on Kindle– that I get steadily better book by book through the first four novels. I am very partial to my last four books because they reflect on my current life of being a mom, but I have noticed that those who are not mothers themselves often don’t like these books as well as the early books. So those are my insights, for what they are worth.
Anyway, it is my intention that Barnstorming will be the last in the series. I always planned to write a dozen books in this series, and now that goal has been achieved. The novels took me twenty years to write, and cover twenty years in the life of one particular horsewoman (30-50), chronicling her many adventures. If you like mysteries and have the slightest tinge of interest in horses, I think you’ll like these books.

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4 Responses

  1. I think Laura’s series is a great example of a character changing in response to maturing and her changing environment. I can remember Gail McCarthy in the early books primping for dates and going to bars. Hard to believe it’s the same person as now, but I know it is, as I was/am that person too!

    • Merry–Not surprisingly, I, too, have gone through this change. Don’t miss those smoky bars at all (!)

  2. I’ve enjoyed all of your books from the beginning, Laura. I’m sorry to see the series end, but am looking forward to reading “Barnstorming.”
    Margaret Franson

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