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Saddled Up 4 Murder–horse thieves in AZ

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Saddled Up 4 Murder

by J.C. Eaton

Sophie (Phee) Kimball is an accountant for Williams Investigations in Glendale, Arizona. She often finds herself unofficially in the middle of murder investigations at the urging (make that insistence) of her mother and her mother’s friends who all live in the popular retirement area of Sun City West. As usual, Phee’s trying to work around the seniors, and their involvement in her investigation is always a source of humor.

In Saddled Up 4 Murder, there are dual mystery threads. Billie, a very unpleasant deli worker, is murdered. Sophie needs to find the perpetrator before one of the elderly ladies who was in the area at the time of the murder is attacked to silence her. Also, and very importantly, the Bye, Bye Birdie Festival is coming up soon when the full-time residents say farewell to the snowbirds. They have a deadline for purchasing balloons for the event and Phee’s mother wants it to be such a success that she gets interviewed on TV. None of this can happen if the crime scene remains cordoned off with yellow tape. The other thread is a string of horses being stolen. Nate, the owner of the detective agency and Marshall, Phee’s fiancé, are hired to track down the horse thieves. It is a hard job given the large area of rugged land they need to cover. In addition, there is no clear motive as these are not expensive race or breeding horses; they come from ranches all over Arizona.

At first I was a little irritated by the amount of time spent in the book on the lack of cellular connectivity and the trouble it causes. Upon further thought, having lived in the West for over 30 years (i.e. since before there were cell phones), I realized that their connection problems were actually very realistic and, in this case, pertinent to the plot. So often I see shows where the main characters are out in the middle of nowhere and have cell phone service. Even in 2022, that is not a realistic scenario.

As always with a J.C. Eaton cozy, the mystery is solid, the descriptions are on target, the characters come alive, and both the situations and dialogue are funny. No Sophie Kimball mystery would be complete without Phee’s mother’s dog, Streetman. The little Chiweenie plays a major role in this book! So, put on your cowboy hat and boots and saddle up for a fun, western cozy mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Beyond the Page Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #9 in the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone.
2. Only found in this book in the series, there is a large gathering of several Wiccan covens which is depicted as a fun, family festival. I was uncomfortable with the involvement of the occult. In the book their role and actions are only positive, but I found that to be a deceptive and naive viewpoint. I hope this is an isolated inclusion of a Wiccan event, and I don’t expect this theme to appear in future books in the series.

Publication: March 15, 2022—Beyond the Page Publishing

Memorable Lines:

“What about the field rep from the Department of Agriculture?” “About as useful as a toad on an iceberg.”

“Did you say finagling? Don’t you mean breaking and entering? Good grief! That’s the most preposterous thing you’ve come up with. Compared to that, the other two plans look like masterpieces.”

…people who hide important items sometimes stick them in their freezers. The exception being my mother. There was a no room under those layers of frozen dinners, cookies that had passed their expiration dates, boxes of matzo that had crossed the Red Sea with Moses, and ice cream that had crystalized.


7 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize ths book was out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WendyW says:

    Nice review, Linda. I can attest that there is a LOT of area in Arizona that does not have cell service!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carla says:

    A Wonderful review, Linda. I really need to get back to this series. I have only read the first one, but I liked it. All of them are available through my library. I like the idea of not having cell phone coverage, what to do now? I agree with the Wiccan aspect, not what I would expect.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lghiggins says:

      The inclusion of Wiccans was something I did not expect and was not comfortable with. It’s not that they did anything bad, but that the authors seem to be pushing an agenda of acceptance towards witchcraft. Very surprising and out of character for the series.

      Liked by 2 people

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