Beth Groundwater had me at horses.
The third book in the Claire Hanover Gift Basket Designer Mystery series, ‘A Basket of Trouble’ features her brother, Charley’s new riding stable. Charley has relocated to Colorado Springs at Claire’s suggestion for more consistent summer tourism. The stables feature trail rides into the Garden of the Gods Park. (See the video below for a glimpse of this awe inspiring location.) Charley’s wife Jessica does hippotherapy which uses horses to provide treatment for individuals with disabilities.
Before the stable really gets off the ground, Kyle Mendoza, the lead trail guide and wrangler is found dead in Gunpowder’s stall. Troubles mount for the new riding stable when Kyle’s family decides to sue them, competing businesses challenge them and the city threatens to shut him down.
As a result, Claire decides to help her brother by investigating the murder.
This is the first book that I have read by Beth Groundwater, but it won’t be the last. The first book in this series, ‘A Real Basket Case’ was nominated for the 2007 “Best First Novel” Agatha Award. Beth also writes another series, The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventure series, featuring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner. She lives in Colorado and loves the many outdoor activities available there. (See the slideshow for Beth Groundwater’s other books.)
This book had everything I want in a cozy mystery. It featured multidimensional characters, a twisting plot, and a location I want to visit. I always love books when I learn while being entertained and I found hippotherapy to be an interesting technique. Claire also intrigued me with her gift basket work, she made them sound so nice, I may actually try making one.
However, the aspect of the book that makes it more than just an enjoyable read is how she deftly handled the topic of illegal immigration. While she in no way preaches, she clearly shows the current difficulties employers face in hiring. The book features the human side of the immigrants who are here illegally. Additionally she highlights the danger of human smuggling. This aspect of the book makes it a great option for book clubs to consider. Beth indicates that she will visit book clubs, depending on the distance, either in person or via Skype.
Five stars out of five.
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In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work.