One of Humboldt’s well-known horse breeders is brutally murdered, then left to burn in his barn along with his prized stallions. A Jack Logan client has been accused of the murder and Carson has been called in to investigate.
However, getting to the truth is proving to be a real challenge. It seems no one, not even the accused, is capable of telling the truth.
Greed, lust, infidelity, half-truths and the Memphis Mafia all seem to be involved – somehow. Sorting out the pieces and finding the real murderer, will be a monumental task.
Carson becomes involved in the web of lies and faces one of his biggest challenges, as he tries to solve the case of Horse Tales.
It was a disaster beyond most people’s comprehension.
There was nothing left standing of the barn – it had burned completely to the ground. Among the rubble and smoking wood, you could see the smoking corpses - which had once been some of the finest thoroughbred stallions in the Tennessee and Kentucky area.
Unnoticed, among these ruins, were the burned remains of Aaron Nunamaker, - owner of ‘Nunamaker Stables’ - and one of the best known horse breeders and stud farm owners in West Tennessee.
Killing a human being brings the wrath of the law and the accompanying sorrow and grief from loved ones. Killing a helpless animal, brings wrath that is unequaled to that associated with killing a person. This sorrow and grief continues long after the grief over human loss has left. Mankind will forget their own loss – but they never forget similar betrayals to animals. Odd isn’t it?
The fire had, obviously, been set – it was a deliberate murder of innocent animals - horses. Horses that could not free themselves from their comfortable stable – horses that trusted their caregiver and felt safe in their home. Horses that died a terrible death – horses that would never know how they became involved in such a terrible scheme and plan.
Tracks reveled that many of the doomed horses had been led from another barn to the one that was burned. This made it more than an act of revenge or rage – but one intended to destroy the animals. All at once, and all at one time.
Other than car and horse tracks, clues were minimal – non-existent, really. Police roped off the area and considered it an accident or a rival/revenge act – until they found the body. Then things changed.
He had been shot once, at close range with a high powered rifle. The bullet entering his center chest, and exiting to some unknown parts of the barn – or maybe the surrounding ground. His body was burned beyond normal recognition, like the horses. But, his engraved Horseshoe ring – which he always wore proudly on his right hand ring finger, made preliminary identification possible.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and quickly grabbed at taxi for the track. Our ‘day at the races’ was going to start early and end late.
Unfortunately, Jack, Joe nor myself were very good at handicapping the ponies. We bet on our horses, tore up our losing tickets and then spent time searching for the bar and discussing the next race. But not Liz – she was cashing winning tickets on every race. Finally I had had enough!
“Ok Liz,” I said while tearing up my most recent losing bet ticket, “we surrender. What is your system? What is your trick? How can you have a winner on every race – and we can’t have any luck?”
“It is simple. First, I pick a horse’s name I like. Then I pick a jockey’s name I like. Then, because I can’t decide – I bet on all the horses! See, it worked! I have won every race!”
We just all looked at each other!
I had to say something. “Liz, that is great – but do you win more than you bet? That is the idea – right?”
“No it isn’t. My idea is to win and have fun. I’ve done that. What is the problem? Have I done something wrong?”
Judy interrupted, “no Elizabeth you haven’t. The idea is to have fun – winning is fun – so you have fun and win. Forget what these idiots tell you!”
We knew it was best to just let this one go – she was having fun, which is what really mattered.
“Okay,” Jack said. “Let’s get serious and see if we can’t pick a winning daily double. Anybody got suggestions?”
Of course it was Liz who had the answer. “Yep, I’ve already picked them out. We should bet on ‘Chili Powder’ in the 7th race and ‘MakeNBacon’ in the 11th. Can’t miss, they are sure winners!”
“Alright Elizabeth – please tell us what magical method you used to pick these horses. Why are they sure winners?” I asked.
“Because they both remind me of food – and I’m HUNGRY! When do we eat?” She was serious.
“Tell you what. You girls go with Joe and find us a seat in the Jockey Club. Jack and I will make this ‘sure’ bet and join you there. Okay?”
They all agreed and hurriedly went in search of the Jockey Club and food. Jack and I fought the crowd and made our way to the downstairs betting windows.