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I love mysteries I love horses, and I love Tami Hoag s style of writing, so it s no surprise I enjoyed the first installment of her Elena Estes series.Interestingly, the rough around the edges, obnoxious protagonist of this series who is Elena Estes and who seems to be hated by some of the negative reviewers doesn t normally appeal to me, but in this case I found it hard not to like the abrasive, flawed, once respected now hated by everyone ex cop I also like the use of first person third person, which I felt worked well for this story.Of particular interest, at least for me, was the look into the don t ask if you can t afford world of big money, competitive Dressage and Eventing Apparently, Hoag is an accomplished Dressage rider as is evident in the descriptions she gives.Bottom line I liked the story and its seemingly unlikable protagonist. DARK HORSE ExHoag, TamiElena Estes is a former cop whose bravado on the force resulted in a colleague s death it also cost her her job and her self esteem, not to mention the psychological and physical fallout from nearly being shot She s been keeping a low profile at a friend s Florida ranch, but her world is disrupted when 12 year old Molly Seabright, wise beyond her years, attempts to hire Elena to find her older sister, Erin, who has been missing for two days As Elena digs deeper into Erin s disappearance, the dark side of the horse show set is revealed Hoag Night Sins Dust to Dust , herself an experienced equestrian, shows off her dressage to showing knowledge of the sport as she weaves behind the scenes tidbits about the training, competitions, horse brokers and grooms into a plot that gallops along Though she is a master of suspense, the story falters when a major secret about the kidnapping is exposed.Major step forward in her writing Suspenseful and edgy, interesting, complex character Elena Estes is a fabulous character, I would friend her on Facebook but she d never go on Facebook, and if she did and we were besties, the Russian mob would come after me with dental drills, so it s probably for the best Her Elena Estes stories are, I think, the best thing Tami Hoag has ever written What a transformation from old school contemporary bodice rippers to compelling thrillers I m fascinated by the seedy world Elena inhabits in glitzy Palm Beach, and the snark fest anonymous tell all confessional tone re the Polo Club set It s like finding sequins in horse manure dazzling PLEASE, Ms Hoag, write a third in this series I want a fulfilling life, and dare I say it, a happily ever after for Elena and her on again off again lover They ve earned it, haven t they A few years ago narcotics cop Elena Estes was drummed out of the force after a rash act of heroism on her part led to a colleague losing his life Now she s living off her very wealthy childhood friend Sean and vaguely assisting with the passel of horses he owns These horses are trained for equestrianism, not racing One day a child, Molly Seabright, comes to Elena looking to hire her as a private detective Molly s elder sister Erin, a teenage groom at one of the local stables, has disappeared, and no one seems at all interested their mother s constantly stoned and anyway doesn t want to irritate their stepfather, who s a hard hearted, self absorbed swine Meanwhile, the cops couldn t care less because Erin s legally an adult and anyway they re lazy.Despite misgivings, Elena takes Molly s 10 retainer and the case.The plot that Elena eventually lays bare is an immensely complicated one or, really, it s not just a single criminal scheme but an overlapping cluster of them, such that, by the time the great unraveling of crimes and motivations is over, there are very few of the principals left untainted by guilt of some sort It s perhaps because of this complexity that the book is so long far too long, I d say The page count s a tad misleading, because there are a lot of words to the page in this edition The early stages in particular seemed particularly tedious to me, as if Hoag had taken a hundred or a hundred fifty pages to settle herself into the book, then been insufficiently ruthless in trimming the result afterwards A symptom of this was the adolescent style smartass badinage the characters often engaged in, presumably in hopes of reducing the reader to a quivering jelly of uncontrollable mirth but in my case well, they never quite got to the level of No, it s you who s the poopy face but on occasion I felt this was just round the corner.The later stages of the book were far, far better, and by the time I reached the final page I had that nice feeling of breathlessness the best thrillers can induce This was impressive, and all the so in that equestrianism is not one of those sports to which I ve ever felt any warmth To be honest, I ve never really regarded it as a sport before Hoag did a very good job of disabusing me of my snooty misconception I also liked the central character, Elena, a lot To be sure, there s a hazy line between feistiness and just being a pain in the ass, and sometimes she stepped over it a real life version would do so even often and even egregiously, I suspect , but the character has enough strength and interest that I was prepared to ignore those lapses.It amused me that Hoag deployed the had I but known mode of narrative a few times Pleased me, too It s always a joy when genre writers acknowledge the earlier traditions of their genre Dark Horse is, for the reasons I ve noted, some distance short of front line Hoag, but the narrative does have her customary firmness of touch and the mystery is an enjoyably knotty one A worthy effort. OK, so this is how an author produces a book a year I m learning.Having just finished Cry Wolf, I had a sense of deja vu from the beginning Oh here comes the same heroine In Cry Wolf, ex lawyer Laurel has messed up a court case, lost an important case and caused terrible grief to abused children whose case was thrown out Leaving her job, she comes home to the Bayou to nurse her wounds and heal her troubled conscience In Dark Horse, Estes has messed up an important police raid, got a fellow cop killed and been badly injured herself Thrown out of her job, she comes back to live in a stables and heal her troubled conscience In Cry Wolf, Laurel wants nothing than to be left alone but bodies are washed up in the swamp and she gets pulled into the action In Dark Horse, Estes wants nothing than to be left alone but a valuable horse is bumped off and a young woman goes missing and she is reluctantly pulled into the action Laurel is petite but tough, fiery, daring, unspeakably brave and a tiger Estes has been put back together after being run over by a crook in a 4x4, but even with horrific injuries she is petite but tough, fiery, daring, unspeakably brave and a tiger Men either hate or love our heroines They are bitches They are angels Really complex stuff.I don t know whether to carry on I bet Estes falls in love with a tall, edgy, difficult handsome guy with a tragic past and chiseled features There will be breathless rides in cars, of the romantic and terrifying kind, and steamy sex But I m only guessing.By the way, Hoag, thank you for telling us that women of seventy shouldn t wear bikinis for fear of offending anyone who catches a glimpse of them The woman who stood in the door was was long past the age and shape anyone would care to see her in a two piece swimming suit Elegant sentence too Flab and sagging skin hung on her bent frame like a collection of half deflated leather balloons Maybe she was happy in the sun Well done for making us all stare at our aging bodies again.I ll get my feet set in concrete for writing this. What does a disgraced narcotics undercover cop with a trust fund do when everything comes crashing down Why even does a woman with a trust fund become a cop She says it s to even the scales and restore the balance between good and evil After evil won a battle, she retreated to a friend s estate and horse stables That puts her in the path of evil.I lost count at the end of the crimes our intrepid unlicensed investigator uncovers and solves She s first drawn into a kidnapping when the younger sister of a missing girl asks her to find her sister By the time she s finished, she s found the missing girl who was involved in her kidnapping plot She has information in three murders She finds and looses evidence in one of those murders, but that culprit disappears Things outside the showring in the horse world are very dark indeed.I was captivated by the environment, the twisted paths of each crime and the unwilling detective in this story I may have to look up her further adventures. Dark, creepy murder mystery set among horse showmanship and horse sports I know next to nothing about that setting, but Tami Hoag takes care of that for those readers in the dark I read the second Elena Estes book, Alibi Man a couple of years ago and I remember liking that one, too I don t think these books need to be read in order You ll get a sinister murder mystery either way.Elena Estes is a depressed, borderline suicidal ex cop who moves into the guest house on the property of a rich, equestrian loving friend She is piecing her life back together, much like her face was pieced back together after having been shot while on duty She claims no family, she has no real sense of direction or purpose She is extremely bitter She is approached by a twelve year old girl, Molly Seabright, who insists her older sister Erin is missing Erin is eighteen and no one except Molly seems to care that she is gone Not sure why she decides to look further into the situation, Elena accepts Molly s deposit and case , and is quickly drawn into the murder and intrigue of the missing girl and the dark side of horse dealings.The horse show rings tournaments make for a nice backdrop I would ve never considered suffocating someone in a pile of horse manure, but it works Plenty of red herrings and twists throughout, so mystery fans should like it Not big on forensics this time, but definitely suspense. &Pdf ✐ Dark Horse ↵ In Her Latest Thriller, New York Times Bestselling Author Tami Hoag Takes Readers On A Suspense Filled Ride Of Shocks And Twists Leading To An Explosive Finish It Is The Story Of An Ex Cop, A Missing Girl, And A Killer Locked In A Race Where There Can Be Only One Winner And The Losers Die Trying In A Trailer In A Florida Swamp, Time Is Running Out For Eighteen Year Old Erin Seabright A Pawn In A Kidnapper S Terrifying Game For A Ransom No One Can Pay, Her Last Hope Is A Washed Up Ex Cop Who Has Already Lost It All Not Once, But TwiceThe Wealthy World Of The Palm Beach Horse Set Seems A Long Way From A Cop S World In The Narcotics Division A Lifetime Ago, Undercover Sheriff S Detective Elena Estes Worked The Mean Streets And BackTop Alleys, Living By Her Wits And Playing The Long Odds Until She Took One Risk Too Many Now Estes Lives On The Ragged Edge Of Lost Hope And Self Hatred, Hiding From The Past And Believing She Doesn T Deserve To Have A Future But The Past Is About To Come Back With A Vengeance, And The Future Is About To Become A Race Between Life And DeathA Young Woman Is Missing And Her Twelve Year Old Stepsister Comes To Estes For Help No One But Serious, Studious Molly Seabright Seems Concerned About What S Happened To Her Troubled Older Sister But Molly Is Convinced Erin Is In Danger Estes Has No PI License, No Interest In A New Career, And No Desire To Break Her Self Imposed Exile But The She Learns About The People Erin Seabright Was Involved With, The Her Long Dormant Cop Instincts Come Back To LifeOne Trip To The Show Grounds Where Erin Worked As A Groom, And Estes Is Quickly Pulled To The Dark Side Of A Glamorous Sport Behind The Glittering, Ultra Rich Facade Is An Ultra Ruthless World Of Drugs, Payoffs, And Dirty Deals A World Of Dissolute Playboys And Crooked Horse Dealers, Of Royalty And Rabble, Of Rivals And Enemies An Obscenely Wealthy World Where Anything Can Be Had For A Price Including A LifeAnd In That World Stalks A Killer Who Will Lead Estes Down A Dark, Twisted Trail Of Decadence And Deceit, Mayhem And Murder From The Gilded Life Of Palm Beach To The Darkest Corners Of The Florida Swamps, To A Final Show Down That Could Cost Her Everything A Race Against Time And Evil A Race In Which Estes Is The Dark Horse And No One Is Betting On Her To Win This book was kind of boring, I would really rate it a 2 and a half The basic plot line involves a missing teenager who works in the horse stables Because of the evidence, she is presumed kidnapped and held for ransom While that is going on another girl is killed in the stables There are also possible shady deals, other murders alluded to, and a dead horse The PI, who is not a PI, who is hired to investigate is an x cop with bad memories She is tough but the conversations always sounded contrived to me, I mean I just don t think it would really work that way Then there is a cop who becomes involved, both professionally and romantically I guess it could have been a good book but it kind of turns into a big whatever There are way too many bad guys and that dilutes the force of the book I never felt connected to any of the characters and this is a very long book to read if you aren t connecting I ve like her previous books better. Didn t like this book at all The suspense just fell flat The characters were boring The plotline looked interesting but it wasn t a thrilling, can t sleep because I need to know what happens story It felt one note all through the book The relationship between Elena and Landry was plain boring Very disappointing novel.