Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman

Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman
A Steve Cline Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-307-2 (1590583027)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-302-9 (9781590583029)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Although 23-year-old barn manager Steve Cline doesn't expect to stray far from the horse world, he has enrolled in a private investigations course and is working on the final project. But when his father, racehorse trainer Chris Kessler, invites him to Louisville on a two-week, all-expense-paid vacation that will culminate with the running of the Kentucky Derby, how can he refuse? Except, it isn't really a vaction. Kessler has a Derby runner and needs a reliable fill-in when one of his employees is injured.

With only two horses to care for, the workload is light, and Steve decides to get that class project out of the way--a simple records search. But the very act of initiating the project triggers a chance encounter that plunges Steve into the world of the ultra rich. A world where greed and revenge and ambition drive some men to commit unspeakable acts amid the pageantry and glamour of thoroughbred racing.

In quick order, Steve finds himself the prime suspect in a murder investigation and the target of brutal thugs. From the relative security of the backside to the Derby festivities that transform downtown Louisville into Party Central to the opulence of a Lexington horse farm, Steve deals with his own personal demons and strained relationships as he attempts to stop a murderer before a power play culminates in shattered dreams and a bloody triple cross.

Review: Horseman and amateur sleuth Steve Cline travels to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby in Kit Ehrman's fourth entry in this series, Triple Cross.

Steve has been asked by his father, trainer of a Kentucky Derby entrant, to help out in the preparations for the race. He arrives in Louisville a week prior to the first Saturday in May, splitting his time working on the track backside and fulfilling an assignment for a private investigator course he's taking: finding out as much as possible about a random individual. The person he chooses, a woman working as a marketing assistant on the frontside, inexplicably disappears after he meets her and is later found murdered. Since Steve was investigating her background, he seems a natural suspect for the police. But when Steve later escapes some close calls himself, he realizes she may have been involved in something far more dangerous than he ever imagined.

The first half of Triple Cross, which proceeds at what might best be considered a leisurely pace, is largely background material for the plot which itself is fairly complicated. The title, no doubt a play on racing's Triple Crown, intimates that a "triple cross" will be revealed at some point necessitating a complex set of relationships to be set up early in the book. Horse racing itself has numerous participants: owners, trainers, jockeys, and other assorted horse men and women. The owners typically have other business interests as well, offering any number of plot possibilities. Ehrman initially does a fine job of managing all this information in Triple Cross, but seems to falter when attempting to introduce misdirection, red herrings if you will, into the story. It's a bit confusing at times, and the plot gets sidetracked for a while but eventually regains its focus. And, as with a typical horse race, in the end it all comes down to the stretch run. In this regard, Triple Cross is a winner.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Triple Cross for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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