cover image Girls and Their Horses

Girls and Their Horses

Eliza Jane Brazier. Berkley, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-43888-6

Horse mothers put stage mothers to shame in this wildly entertaining thriller from Brazier (Good Rich People). Texas transplants Heather and Jim Parker buy a $28 million house in Southern California, and arrive at the nearby Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian Center at the top of the heap. Heather will do anything to help her young teen daughter Maple win the annual horse show, including engaging in full equine combat with top “barn mom” Pamela and her vicious daughter, Vida. Meanwhile, rumors swirl around Kieran Flynn, the equestrian center’s charming owner and head trainer, and his “implausibly handsome” intern. Suspicious accidents pile up gradually—a horse spooked by spilled soda, a cut stirrup—until somebody winds up dead. Brazier cleverly heightens suspense by declining to reveal the victim’s identity until late in the novel, stacking motives and suspects before she finally hits readers with the gruesome murder. Her characterization impresses, too: the horses emerge as distinctive personalities in their own right as the author nimbly juggles the humans’ scandalous backstories. This is a sparkling addition to Brazier’s impressive career. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (June)