Diana J Febry, author of the Rural detective series, has given us another engrossing mystery novel from the English countryside.
Richard Fielding is hospitalized in Dorset after a horse riding accident. His new wife, Alicia, is convinced Richard’s ex-wife, Cynthia, tried to kill him, sending him a dangerous horse. She wants to have it put down. Cynthia says the horse is ‘a perfect schoolmaster‘ and must have been drugged if it acted violently. Cynthia says the horse is evidence and Alicia better not put it down. Cynthia intends to send a vet around to take a blood sample.
We then meet Kate Chapman and Simon Morris, platonic friends recently returned to England, sharing an apartment and looking for work. Kate is willing to do just about anything while Simon decides he wants to be a private investigator.
Kate answers a post office advertisement from Cynthia Fielding ‘seeking work with horses.” Cynthia tells them the story. She doesn’t trust Richard’s new wife. She talked to Richard who suggested if Cynthia wanted to know more, she should send someone down to represent her and monitor the situation with the vet. Richard doesn’t doubt his new wife or his ex-wife.
Was the horse drugged? Is it the same horse?
Kate and Simon go to Clencher’s Mill and meet with Alicia, learning she has a teenage daughter, Helen, who is staying with friends. They later meet with Richard when he returns from the hospital.
Slowly, the author opens new door, new intrigues for the pair to confront.
Kate and Simon discover there may be more going on than first suspected.
The horse was drugged. Alicia Fielding was the one who outfitted the horse before Richard rode it. A man in a car who found Richard called for an ambulance. Did his car startle the horse? The man claims, while calling the ambulance, he saw someone dog walking in a field near where the accident occurred. Who was this mysterious person. The Fieldings are also outsiders to this small community, new arrivals. Their presence is frowned upon. They are “antis” (anti-hunting advocates) as a strange young girl named Jade informs Kate and Simon. There is a ban on hunting foxes but police in these rural communities don’t act on it. And Richard and Alicia have banned hunting on their land.
Kate the first morning comes upon a gate glued shut with dead crows hanging from it.
A warning? A prank?
At a local pub, they learn that a fifteen year old boy recently committed suicide, his death blamed on bullying at school, factions between the antis and the pro-hunting advocates.
The next night, the windshield of Alicia’s Ranger Rover is shattered and someone tries to break into the garage. A dead fox is left on the passenger seat.
Alicia still doesn’t want to contact the police.
And then Helen, who has come home, in an angry fit, tries to steal her mother’s debit card.
Simon speaks with Helen and she expresses how much she hates living here, saying “I may as well kill myself.” Helen lets Simon know she believes she did something so stupid, that might be why things are happening.
Simon wins Helen’s trust by telling her about a bad decision he once made, a terrible incident in his past that still haunts him.
Helen, swearing Simon to secrecy, tells him some disturbing things that occurred while she was chatting online with a boy named Jake.
I dare not say more. Rest assured, ‘Trouble At Clencher’s Mill’ has many unexpected twists and turns. It has a host of interesting characters with unique motivations that will keep the reader turning pages to learn the truth. I highly recommend this book. 5 stars!
Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux