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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
On The Buckle is the first of the Dreamhorse Mystery Series written by Candace Carrabus. Vi Parker is nearing 30, and her absentee parents have given her notice that she'll lose any chance at a trust fund if she doesn't stay at a job for a full year before that birthday comes around. Vi's cousin Penny has found her a job as a trail riding leader on a horse ranch in Missouri. Vi reluctantly takes the job and leaves her Long Island lifestyle for a very different life in Missouri. She's accompanied by Noire, her Labrador retriever, and Cali, her thoroughbred rescue racehorse. When she arrives, Vi is not all that sure the trust fund is going to be worth the effort of fitting in at Winterlight. While horses are her life, and there are some wonderful horses there for Vi to care for, Robert Malcolm, the owner, is both surly and married, and JJ, the local ne'er-do-well, is looking to cause trouble. Then there's the problem of her recurring dreams, starring Wastrel, a long-dead horse from her past, who keeps pawing at the compost heap.
Candace Carrabus's mystery novel, On The Buckle, is a fast-paced and enjoyable suspense tale featuring funny and likable Vi Parker. Carrabus has created a strong heroine in Vi, who is somewhat scarred by her parents foisting her on her aunt and uncle and the tragic loss of a horse she was competing on. She's definitely not shy about what she likes: including shots of whipped cream straight from the can, and the sight of a chiseled, well-muscled manly torso. We see Winterlight and its inhabitants through her eyes and, along with her, grow to appreciate those people and their surroundings. There's also a first-rate mystery in On The Buckle as Vi, Malcolm, and his friends try to figure out who killed Norman and why. I enjoyed this book and will be looking for the next one in this series.