HORSING AROUND CAN BE FATAL!
(A conversation with Persephone Morgan)
I’ve always loved horses, but the topic of equine rescue was a real eye-opener for me. Frankly, I was immersed in the glamorous world of shows, polo matches, and competitive racing and oblivious to the grisly fate suffered by far too many horses whose owners abdicate responsibility for them. I soon found that the Internet was awash with sad tales and dismal statistics. My fantasies about cherished creatures like Trigger, Silver, and Buttermilk clashed markedly with reality. With the help of my best friend Babette Croy, I decided to do something about that.
My name is Perri Morgan. I lead a relatively dull existence in Grand Falls, Virginia, crafting custom leashes, collars, bridles, and saddles for dogs and horses. “Rescues” touch a special place in my heart, since, after my parents’ death, I became the product of the foster care system. I know all too well what it means to long for acceptance and a forever home. In fact, my modest spread boasts two retired military dogs, one entitled feline, and an ornery pygmy goat, all of whom were discarded and subsequently re-homed with me.
My community is an affluent one filled with Macmansions, lavish landscaping, and well-intentioned neighbors leading busy lives. Many of them enjoy polo, horse and dog shows, and competitive riding. Some, like Babette, also have a big heart and genuinely care about less fortunate creatures. My pal is passionate. In fact, one might call Babette a social justice warrior willing to put herself and her pocketbook on the line to help animals.
Unfortunately, even good intentions can clash when property values and profits collide. Thus, when our town council suddenly proposed to rezone land and evict the Cavalry Farms Rescue facility, tempers flared, expletives flew, and our normally tranquil community experienced a galloping case of NIMBY (not in my back yard). With Babette leading the charge, several of us mobilized and formed a protest group, appropriately dubbed NEIGH. Nothing militant, just a band of concerned citizens with something to say. Our ace in the hole was the public scrutiny provided by my romantic partner, investigative hottie Wing Pruett. Grand Falls prided itself on a liberal reputation and shunned any bad publicity. I was cautiously optimistic about our chances until disaster struck; I came face to face with the bloodied corpse of Babette’s assistant, draped across her employer’s bed!
Little did we know that Ethel, an outwardly shy and unassuming person, was in fact a cunning confidence woman and blackmailer who prowled around horse shows, polo matches, and other haunts of the wealthy, seeking scandal. Most of my friends and customers would pay handsomely to shield their secrets. Rumors of financial and personal indiscretions abounded in the closed confines of the show circuit but as whispers, winks, and nods that were seldom voiced. Riders, trainers, and owners mixed freely, often too freely, at social events. If Ethel violated that implicit code of silence, any number of victims might react violently.
My presence at shows is so routine that nobody even notices me. I’m just a normal part of the scenery selling leather products and dispensing advice. To salvage Babette’s reputation, I vowed to leverage that access and search for the killer. Naturally my Malinois Keats and Poe were alarmed by my recklessness and stayed by my side. Little did I know that a sound dose of horse sense would have saved me from danger.
Arlene’s Short but Sweet Bio
An artful combination of humor, satire, and savagery makes Arlene Kay’s tales unique. The published author of nine mystery novels is a former Treasury executive who traded the trappings of bureaucracy for the delights of murder most foul. She wisely confines her crimes to fiction, although like all mystery writers she firmly believes that most deaths are suspicious – and everyone is a suspect. Her Creature Comforts series from Kensington (lyrical), includes Death by Dog Show; Homicide by Horseshow; and Therapy by Murder.