April 17, 2013

The Sea Horse Trade by Sasscer Hill

*This book was received as a Free Advanced Review copy*

The Sea Horse Trade is the gritty, hard-hitting third book in the Nikki Latrelle Racing series. As a third book, it's probably best to read the other two first, but I think if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of background story, this book could probably be read as a stand-alone.

Nikki has barely settled in near the racetrack in Florida when she witnesses a murder at the bus stop. The young girl, dressed provocatively for her age, is shot after being dumped from a van. To further add problems, Nikki is also dealing with a suspicous new horse owner and his temperamental horses and has a friend flying in who's searching for her daughter that she had given up at birth. Like usual, Nikki is further embroiled in all the mystery and intrigue despite just wanting to be with the horses.

Nikki is a very strong character. Really, she's what pushes this series along, which is a good thing considering the series is named after her. But she's such a pleasure to read about as she seems so realistic. Like you can imagine that somewhere out there, there is a Nikki Latrelle on the racetrack. Her friends are a little more suspect. They seem to love to cause trouble for her and I was actually curious that there were quite a few that didn't show up from the second book, although a few had a mention or two. Carla was the prominent friend here and she was a focused character that had a lot of determination and a little less sense. The only character I really didn't like was the psychic. She seemed unnecessary and it could have been just as good a book without her. She just added an element that didn't flow as nicely with the rest of the book.

I described this book as gritty, and it is. A murder is described in the first few pages and the rest deals with drugs, sex trafficking and a myriad of other disturbing topics. And what really makes it scary is that all of it could probably happen in real life. Except maybe the thing with the psychic, I'm still undecided on that one. And as I said before, the scenes involving her detract from the book rather than add to it. But if you ignore the psychic there's a good story here. I actually couldn't put the book down and even though I started it late at night, I went ahead and read it in one sitting. Hill just has a way of writing that grips you and keeps you wanting to know what happens next. And even though this book didn't have as much about horses in it as the last, there was still a lot of detail only someone with the racetrack would be familiar with, and it drew you in like you were part of that world. And since you feel for Nikki, you have to see how her story ends up. And this one had an ending that was quite the shocker.

I have no big complaints about the series from what I've read. I like the characters and the books always keep me hooked. This is a series to look for.

Racing From Death
Copyright 2013

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