Thursday, January 26, 2023

Canter with a Killer by Amber Camp - Blog Tour with Author Guest Post and Giveaway


Perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Mollie Cox Bryan, Amber Camp’s debut novel will have you galloping through the pages, as a horse rescue owner races to find a killer and clear her name.

Mallory Martin left her marriage and her unfulfilling job to move back to her hometown of Hillspring, Arkansas, and start a horse rescue. It’s everything she’s been missing, with paddocks of happy horses and one very quirky donkey. But when her cantankerous neighbor and longtime critic, Albert Cunningham, is found murdered in his fancy show barn, Mallory becomes suspect number one. Since Sheriff Grady Sullivan is ignoring all good sense and focusing only on Mallory, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Aided by her best friend, Lanie, and rescue volunteer Tanner, Mallory races headlong into the investigation in search of the real killer. But horses and murder aren’t the only thing on her mind when she meets Albert’s handsome son, Braydon. Sparks fly, and soon she’s got a new boyfriend. But there’s a case to be solved, and she redoubles her efforts to learn the truth.

The suspects mount quickly. There’s Albert’s girlfriend, Kathleen, who was on the farm when he was murdered; organic farmer Heather Rogers, who accused Albert of contaminating her creek; and Philip Atwood, who’d been trying for a right-of-way across Albert’s farm. None of the evidence is holding up though, and Mallory learns that she'll need to take the reins on this investigation if she's going to clear her own name.

Author Guest Post:

Some of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten since Canter with a Killer hit the shelves are about the inspiration for the rescue horses and Biscuit, the little rescue donkey with a big personality. He was inspired by a donkey my aunt and uncle had when I was growing up. They owned a large cattle and horse ranch in Oklahoma, and I spent most holidays and summers there. They had a standard-sized gray donkey named Ears. The name was fitting since he had more than his share in the ear department, even for a donkey. His official employment title was “livestock guardian” for the bottle calves that my aunt raised, but unofficially, he was the ambassador, ranch tour guide, pocket inspector, and kid babysitter.

I can remember him braying the minute he saw us in the mornings, his stubby little legs a blur as he ran to meet us at the fence. He was endlessly patient with me, like he just knew I was a child and needed someone to look out for me. He never let the mean cows near me, and I never had to worry about the wild hogs that roamed the woods when he was close by. I would often climb up on him and ride him around with nothing more than a hay string around his neck, spending afternoons exploring the creek beds or back fields. There will always be a special place in my heart for donkeys and I hope I honor Ears’ memory in Biscuit.

River and Ace were inspired by my oldest horse, also named Ace. He is retired now at thirty-two years old, but he was the best trail horse I’ve ever had. Like River, he is bomb-proof and gaited, likely a Missouri Foxtrotter cross. I made River a sorrel horse with a flaxen mane and tail because I’ve always wanted a horse with that striking color combination. My Ace has been a part of my family since I was fourteen. He’d escaped his pasture, wandered out on the highway, and been hit by a car. His previous owner told my mom that he thought he was going to die. She offered him a little cash, which he took, and we brought him home. His recovery was pretty uneventful, but he still wears a twenty-four-inch scar on his side.

Ace was the first horse that I trained from start to finish and he taught me as much as I taught him, maybe more. He was calm and sensible, but as stubborn as the day is long. Once he learned something though, he never forgot it, so I learned early on not to teach him any bad habits. Like River, Ace always loved hitting the trails around my house and seemed to enjoy exploring new areas as much as I did.

Fortune in Iced Tea, or Tunie, was inspired by my daughter’s off-the-track Thoroughbred rescue mare. Like Tunie, Mira came to us wary and standoffish. She hated grooming and would pin her ears or bite at you when brushed. My daughter has worked with her and through patience and gentle methods, now has a mare that follows her like a puppy. Mira now not only tolerates being groomed, she will nod her head and flop her lower lip in pure enjoyment. Even though I’ve seen it over and over again, I’m always amazed at animals’ capacity for forgiveness and trust.

Goldie was inspired by and named after a horse we had when I was a teenager. She came to us severely neglected and emaciated. I can remember being horrified by her condition, which was my first experience with such cruelty. It took nearly a year to get her back into shape, fix the neglect her hooves had suffered, and help her realize that she was home forever. Like Goldie in Canter with a Killer, our Goldie was patient, consistent, and sweet-tempered.

Zeus was based on my mother’s horse, Whiskey Bar Blues. Like Zeus, Whiskey started out a bit…rough. Unlike Zeus, though, Whiskey liked to buck and bolt under saddle. While Zeus was won over pretty quickly by Tanner’s gentle hand, Whiskey took a while for my mom to undo the bad habits he’d picked up. He also had the goofiest personality. He would steal feed buckets so he could play a game of “you can’t catch me” while we tried to retrieve them.

Several of the Hillspring Horse Rescue horses are like composite characters you see in movies “based on a true story.”. Molly, Stormy, and Buck were inspired by various horses I’ve known over the years. Most of the horses I’ve had the pleasure of owning (or being owned by) have been rescue horses, and it’s fun to include their quirks and personalities in the horses I write about. And since my family has always had horses, I have a lot of stories for inspiration.

I love to connect with readers, so feel free to follow me on social media. I frequently share photos of our resident animals and fosters.

About the Author: 

Amber has lived in Northwest Arkansas for twenty+ years, working as an RN at a rural hospital in the area. She has a menagerie of animals that includes dogs, cats, horses, chickens, and what has been described as the Mule from Hell, which may or may not be a slight exaggeration. Writing has always been a focus in Amber’s life, something she describes as “food for my soul.” An avid reader since grade school, she enjoys multiple genres and is always looking for new authors to add to her favorites. Amber is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

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Patricia T said...

Sounds like a great book!

Mickey's Musings said...

Good interview. The book sounds good too :)
Purrs, Julie

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great read.

pilch92 said...

That looks good.

Brian's Home Blog said...

That looks like a fun one and horses are really cool. The Mule from Hell made us giggle.

Leah said...

Sounds like an interesting interesting book!