by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Ghost Ranch, a Pepper Kane Mystery by Carole T. Beers, along with an interesting interview with Carole. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of Ghost Ranch, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
New West Mysteries with Heart
Carole T. Beers’ Pepper Kane Mystery series was first published in June 2016 with a second book following up in 2017, bringing clever mysteries and rich characters riding in on a horse. A horse? Yes. Pepper Kane is an avid horsewoman, fifty-five-year old with two exes, two adult children, and a long distance lover. She shows horses (Chocolate Waterfall…What a name!), owns a tack shop with BFF Tulip Clemmons (Another clever name…The Best Little Horsehouse in Oregon!), loves pie especially after a crises (Apricot, but with a sprinkle of parmesan?), and seems to have a knack for sleuthing. A former veteran reporter for a Seattle newspaper, Pepper approaches the mayhem and murder with an organized and thorough perspective. She is a “born reporter…nosy, curious, a tad pushy,” to say the least. So using her well-honed investigative skills, she sets out to find the who, what, where, when, and why!
Saddle Tramp earns 5/5 Horse Blankets grabs you right off with the murder of a show horse, and the excitement and danger doesn’t slow down from there. Introducing the new series and addressing all the background and character connections, like in most first books, didn’t overwhelm the mystery, and romance and humor were sprinkled throughout. Totally engaging!
Over the Edge earns 5/5 Silver Buckles has Pepper heading to the national horse competition and a win could be the solution for her struggling business, but a missing girl, death threats, and the discovery of a dead body put everything in serious jeopardy. The “edge of your seat” excitement and fascinating information on horse competition is a delight, even if you’re a novice horse enthusiast. Totally entertaining!
Ghost Ranch earns 5/5 Saddles and Secrets…Whoa! Excellent!
Along with her tack shop filled with all things for the avid horse person, Pepper Kane hopes to venture into the hospitality realm by opening a guest ranch, a B, B&B to be exact—bed, barn, & breakfast. The property next to her parent’s ranch may be coming up for sale, and combining both would make for an excellent Western destination resort. She decides to head out and get an early view and dream of all the possibilities, but the view ends up requiring a call to 9-1-1. The property with a “seen better days” cabin looks like a great fixer-upper project, but the tragic to cursed to haunted past may be something she can’t fix. Oh, and the dead body could be problematic, too.
In 1953, Preston O’Hare, a famous writer in the style of Zane Grey, had been hounded by family tragedies, the “Hearings,” a lawsuit, and personal demons, choosing suicide and putting a curse on the property as his final act. The current owners had experienced several odd incidents that forced them to move and consider selling the property. Pepper is eager to find answers to the murder, but without an ID of the body, threats to her safety, and too many possible connections she once again is in jeopardy.
I greatly enjoyed this third book in Carole T. Beers’ Pepper Kane Mystery series with its clever murder mystery incorporating a tragic past event, quirky characters, and horses. Having vacationed in the Rouge River Valley, her descriptions of the woods, small towns, buildings, and decor brought back memories. It is entertaining to have a middle-aged woman set in her career being the lead in the story. I liked her maturity and the reference to “lover” when referring to Sonny Chief. It’s not as juvenile, or committed as “boyfriend,” but it is realistically portrayed with passion, insecurity, and an air of distance not just in mileage. I am not a horse aficionado, although there are wonderful memories of visits to my great-uncles’ farms, watching the Olympic horse competitions, and a few horse-related movies. But despite my very novice understanding and experience, the side trips into the show horse community, practices, and care and feeding of horses that at times took front and center were fascinating and informative. Also the references to cowboy gear and country/western music, were a treat. There was a time I fancied myself of city-cowgirl.
Carole’s book was an all around engaging and entertaining adventure. She has a steady pace with realistic dialogue for the non-city community not relying just on the narrative. She sprinkles in a bit of humor, romantic entanglements, and more than a few “No, don’t go there!” cringes. For book clubs who debate social and historical ideas incorporated in stories will undoubtedly pick up on the various Native American issues, more contemporary than one might suspect. I really enjoyed all those side discussions. It’s easy to join in with book three, but I highly recommend readers not miss Saddle Tramp and Over the Edge.
Let’s have a chat with Carole T. Beers…
KRL: When did you start writing?
Carole: In the womb? Born in Portland, Oregon, to descendants of Oregon Trail pioneers, I fell in love with writing as soon as I could read and with horses as soon as I could ride. I wrote my first stories—and illustrated them in crayon—at age seven. I got my first horse as well as my first author autograph at eleven, setting the dream in motion.
KRL: You and Pepper Kane, your literary creation, both have a journalism background. Can you share some of your details?
Carole: I thought newspapering would be good training for my “real” writing! After earning a B.A. in Journalism at University of Washington, I taught writing at a private school, wrote for romance and horse magazines, and worked for thirty-two years as a reporter and dance critic for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Seattle Times newspaper. Several of my pieces won awards. (To read the stories on the Web, search for “Carole Beers Seattle Times.”) I interviewed celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn, John Wayne, B.B. King, Rudolph Nureyev, and even covered The Queen!
Back in my early stomping grounds of Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, I now enjoy writing novels. Currently I am caught up in the Pepper Kane Mystery Series. It stars a sexy ex-reporter (cuter, braver and younger than I) who shows horses, cultivated friendships, solves crimes, and romances her man. Books one and two are earning great reviews.
KRL: What are some of your future goals?
Carole: To keep improving my writing while attracting diverse readers. My books are cross-genre modern mysteries that appeal to lovers of Women’s Fiction, horses, beautiful country, and Native American ways. I covet Best Seller status with a major venue. For a time Saddle Tramps was the No. 1 Bestselling Trade Paperback at Seattle Mystery Bookshop. In the pipeline is Night Rides, Pepper Kane #4.
KRL: Do you belong to any professional writing groups or organizations?
Carole: Professional affiliations: Western Writers of America; Sisters in Crime; Women Writing the West; Mystery Writers of America. I founded the Facebook groups Reading Country and Mystery Readers Cafe.
KRL: Beyond writing, what do you do with any free time?
Carole: My free-time pursuits include dancing, socializing, playing games, or watching the Seattle Seahawks with my husband, Rich Peterson, attending Bethany Presbyterian Church. I also like hanging with our Boston Terriers and riding my American Paint horse, Shiny Good Bar (Brad). Several years ago I showed the Quarter and Paint horses around the Pacific Northwest. What came of those lovely years were lifelong friends, and state, regional and national awards — including the 2012 American Paint Horse Association’s National Honor Roll Championship in Amateur Walk-Trot Horsemanship and Trail, and Reserve National Championship in Amateur Walk-Trot Western Pleasure. Although now retired from showing, I still ride as if I may go to a show next week!
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Carole: That I am a licensed pilot and have a sharpshooter rating from the NRA. Good fodder for mystery writing!
KRL: How about a rapid fire game?
Ready! Set! Go!
Coffee or Tea? — Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon
Dog or Cat? — Dog (but we have a darling cat)
Carnivore or Herbivore? — Carnivore!
Pie or Cake? — Cake
Picnic or 5-star Restaurant? — Restaurant
Theater or Wait for the DVD? — Theater
Favorite Actor? — Robert Duvall
Favorite Actress? — Katharine Hepburn
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? — Margarita
Beachfront Property or Cabin in the Woods? Beachfront
Finish these sentences:
If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would – Jesus Christ.
If I had just one wish, it would be — To write a novel that touches many, and stands the test of time.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be — Annie Oakley? She rode, and enjoyed success, but didn’t write. Bummer. I’d just have to be a younger, happier, and more successful me!
Be a Big Carole T. Beers Fan!
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To enter to win an ebook copy of Ghost Ranch, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “ranch,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 21, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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