Merrimon Book Reviews

Friesian horse

A vis-à-vis is a horse drawn carriage in which the passengers sit face to face.

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Cart Before The Corpse
The Cart Before The Corpse by Carolyn McSparren
by Carolyn McSparren

Clever cozy mystery with wonderful setting and rich emotional content

Horse show manager Ms. Merry Abbot may not be having the best of days.   A runaway horse causes havoc to her well made plans and news of her estranged father's death follows closely afterwards, necessitating a trip to Mossy Creek.   Although most people assume Hiram Lackland's death was accidental, Peggy Caldwell disagrees.  From the position in which she discovered Hiram's body, Peggy Caldwell is all too certain that Hiram's death was a case of murder.  Geoff Wheeler from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tends to agree with her.  As the only heir in her father's will, Merry realizes that suspicions might be too easily directed at her.  As she tries to put her father's affairs in order, Merry Abbott also sets out to discover the motive and culprit behind her father's murder.  Will she uncover the important clues in time before she becomes the next victim?

Carolyn McSparren's THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE is a cozy mystery with all the excitement of a clever whodunit puzzle with the added bonus of a rich emotional content to draw one into the delightful cast of characters, setting and the story itself.   Told mostly through Merry's first person point of view, some clearly marked chapters are told through Peggy Caldwell and Geoff Wheeler's third person point of view.  Rather than disrupting the flow of the narrative, Carolyn McSparren uses these moments well, allowing the reader to gain additional insight into the character's personalities and at other times creating a smoother narrative flow of events. Although Merry has been estranged from her father, his death becomes a catalyst for inner changes within her.  As she prepares for his funeral, she comes to know other sides of the man and indeed, discovers more about herself in the process.  Carolyn McSparren combines a delightful sense of humor with emotion as Merry Abbott sorts through the funeral preparations and the minute details involved in transfer of his assets. 
Southerners (and misplaced Southerners too!) will find a special delight in Carolyn McSparren's ability to capture those particular Southern customs, especially funeral customs, engraved in our hearts.   THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE takes the reader right into the heart of the world of horse carriage-driving with all sorts of fascinating details from horse breeds to carriage types.  Above all, each and every detail brings a depth to the story.  Merry Abbot is a woman devoted to horses, not only in her profession but also in her heart.  THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE is a mystery for all horse lovers, from those intimate with carriage-driving to readers who just have a soft spot in their heart for these magnificent creatures.  Carolyn McSparren just knows how to bring out pertinent, moving details while also integrating them fully into her characters' personalities and the events of her story. THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE draws one into the Mossy Creek world of the book, making one want to return to the book each spare moment possible and revisit the characters.  What a delightful ending!  This reader is anxiously awaiting the next Merry Abbot mystery!

Carolyn McSparren's THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE is a spin off of the popular Mossy Creek Hometown novels.  If you are new to this series, rest assured that THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE works as a stand alone and an easy entry into the world of Mossy Creek, all the more so since Merry Abbott is herself a visitor when she arrives.  However, once one gets to know the characters and setting, one might very well find oneself eager to revisit this world, either the main Mossy Creek series itself or another Merry Abbot mystery.

Publisher: Belle Bridge Books (October 1, 2009)
A Merry Abbot Carriage-Driving Mystery
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Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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