Last fall I was just finishing the third Connie Holt novel when my publisher informed me it was closing its doors. Writers come to depend on their publishers and cut adrift, often flounder. But I had put too much work into novel three to abandon it; more importantly, it is about a type of horse abuse that is always with us and particularly horrible. Soring. In a new venture, I went to work with a different kind of publisher affiliated with Amazon and discovered new ways of working, new expectations, and finally, new hopes that the book will resonate with people who are concerned with horse protection. As soon as my book is available, I’ll talk about it here and also in e-mails I send out to a list of friends and fans. If anyone would like his or her name added to my trusty list, just let me know. Here’s a quick idea of what happens in Cross of Gold Road.
In Cross of Gold Road, Connie Holt, investigator for Cary McCutcheon’s equine insurance company in Virginia, takes on a new case of an escaped Walking Horse found wandering in McCutcheon’s pasture. Unknown persons have sored him. Soring a horse is punishable in both federal and state law; thus Connie hopes to accumulate enough evidence against the sorers so they can be prosecuted and punished. But how are you going to do that when so many members of horse communities refuse to give information about those who sore? Some are frightened when sorers threaten them; some don’t want to lose the business sorers give them; and some prefer to deny that such a shameful practice exists. And there are three more complications that affect the investigation. Before the case started, Cary had hired a friend’s son as an assistant because the young man has PTSD and is fast sinking into disabling depression. When Connie takes on the case, she asks that the young man help her with it; he’s been making a modest improvement and she thinks he will benefit by learning how to investigate a case successfully. He is still fragile. Can he stand up to the demands of the case, including the strong possibility of physical danger? Another young man who goes to high school enters the scene, and with him comes a new but related issue that suddenly becomes important: child abuse. And the man Connie loves lives far away. Cary despises him, for good reason. Now the man becomes alarmed when he hears about the investigation, fearful Connie is putting herself in danger and will be hurt; in that case he will come to Virginia to be there for her. If he does it will probably mean a confrontation with Cary. When the case comes to an end, Connie will learn anew about the power of horses for good.