My heroine, Clarry Pennhaligan in The Love Detective: NEXT LEVEL, is not a natural horsewoman but hoping that a little bonding on the trail would get Vanessa, a central character in her new investigation, to confide in her, she agrees to saddle-up.
Not her wisest move.
“This is Cleo. She’s seventeen hands and mostly very placid.” “What do you mean… mostly?”
I eyed the strawberry mare. She looked awfully big, and there was something about the baleful stare she gave me that I didn’t quite like. “Hello, Cleo. Good girl. Nice horsey.”
Gingerly, I raised my leg up to the stirrup. “She’s moving. She’s moving,” I yelped.
As a rookie private investigator of only a few weeks, Clarry has already been chased, attacked and kidnapped but nothing has prepared her for the physical indignities of mounting a horse.
It took many attempts and it may not have been elegant to watch but, at last, I was on. All I had to do now, was stay on.
Getting a witness to talk can be hard going but getting a horse to cooperate is an even tougher gig.
I applied a gentle pressure with my heels, but Cleo, delicately chewing a thistle, was having none of it. Not an inch did she budge.
“Come on,” I coaxed. “Work with me here.”
I leaned forward and, somewhere above her neck, hissed into the air. “Listen up, horsey, I’m on a case. This is no time for snacking”
When it comes to the art of subtle interrogation, Clary’s technique needs work. Vanessa, on the defensive at being cross-examined, flares up.
“Why don’t you get off your high horse, Clarry, and mind your own bloody business?”
“I would get off this high horse right this minute,” I yelled, as, at a gallop, we headed towards a belt of low hanging trees, “if I could do so without breaking my damned neck.”
So much for getting Vanessa to open up.
Having survived her headlong plunge across Wimbledon Common on a runaway horse, Clarry soon gets caught up in a bizarre and highly dangerous chain of events.