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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Dark Horse Conspiracy by Betty Ann Harris


The Dark Horse Conspiracy by Betty Ann Harris
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Mystery
Length: Short (60 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Sexy FBI Special Agent James Kelly is assigned to the Stephanie Alexander case. Stephanie is an international journalist who is missing, and under very suspicious circumstances. In a story that takes you from NYC to Costa Rica to Washington, DC, James must not only find her, but defray a terrorist threat against our nation. It's packed full with thrills, suspense, and romance.
Betty Ann Harris’ lively story is a mystery nicely spiced with a spicy romance. The missing Stephanie’s plight is a source of both annoyance and professional frustration for Special Agent James Kelly. There are few clues to pursue, and he has little to go by her sometimes cryptic journal. She was certainly aware of ‘Darkhorse,’ the great threat in her life. Agent Kelly reaches out to her sister, Pam, for information… and gradually, we gain some insight into Stephanie’s choices, and her plight.

At the same time, Agent Kelly seems to become somewhat captivated by the victim – even at the start, when he knows her only through her journal and photograph. Their meeting is very satisfying, with the intrepid Stephanie seeming vulnerable, and her FBI agent being so incredibly strong, sure, and reassuring. Still, it doesn’t take long for the reasons for her disappearance to be made clear. The ingenious details of the conspiracy to are complex, but less so than the average ‘conspiracy type’ thriller, so that the plot never becomes too complex; the mystery is just right, the perfect back drop for a romance. The intrigue is never far from the surface here, but moments akin to the thriller subtly build throughout.

Harris also has a clever way of introducing a moment of humor, a tiny event or comment, that rather diffuses the tension from time to time. I loved James’ moment of nudity, and still chuckle when I remember it.

There were some minor plausibility issues, although I suppose we could believe that the FBI agent was in love before he ever found his quarry. Horse lovers will be somewhat startled to discover the impossibility of an “Arabian Thoroughbred” prancing through the pages, to say nothing of them winning The Kentucky Derby (Arabian horses are not permitted to enter the race). At times a fact checker is best employed, as this type of obvious glitch really detracts from what is overall an enjoyable story.

Even so, clear writing and vibrant characters made this well worth the read.

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