Monday, December 23, 2019

"Dead Blow"

Lisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. She is the author of the highly acclaimed, best-selling novels, Orchids and Stone and Measure of the Moon and the Horseshoer Mystery Series. She is also the author of several non-fiction books and articles on the care and training of dogs and horses.

Preston applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel Dead Blow, the second Horseshoer Mystery, and reported the following:
Cracking Dead Blow open to page 69 finds the intrepid horseshoer Rainy Dale on the job in rural Oregon. She’s just spent the day shoeing horses at the remote end of a ranch owned by her new client, Donna Chevigny, whose husband died in a suspicious accident a year ago. This is the second day of a two-day shoeing job at the remote site, and little wisps of clues and red herrings to the central mystery abound. Rainy and Donna are now on horseback very near where the man died. Rainy is sending her dog to gather cattle from federal land bordering the ranch so that the herd is brought back onto the Chevigny ranch.

A dangerous bull is pastured in one of the two ranch fields that adjoin the federal grazing land. The three pastures come together at a run-through shed, but opening one gate lets the other wire fences sag. If the bull escapes his pasture, he will likely charge the horses Rainy and Donna are riding. Rainy’s dog Charley runs back and forth, working from both sides of all the fencing as he necessarily has to give the cattle he’s moving space at times. The bull charges the dog. Rainy shouts a warning and sprints her horse for the shed where she needs to close the main gate to tighten the fencing. Rainy’s hokey language, partly an act and partly a product of her upbringing, is present even in her thoughts as she notes she “didn’t exactly feel like I was about to run out of horse”—a compliment to the animal’s fitness.

Happily, Dead Blow’s page 69 is solidly representative of the novel. I’m looking forward to doing the Page 69 test on next year’s Forging Fire, which is all about the dog.
Visit Lisa Preston's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Blow.

--Marshal Zeringue