Lindy Abraham and Julia Evans, advocates for wild horse preservation, and investigators for the Wild Horse Squad, set out to discover what is really going on behind an unscheduled, clandestine roundup and road block set up by the Bureau of Land Management. What they discover shocks and horrifies them - dying and dead horses, seemingly poisoned. Before they can report their findings, however, the two women mysteriously disappear.
Kate Wyndham, ex eventer, still grieving over the loss of her horse, Manny, is assigned to investigate the women's disappearance and soon finds herself immersed in a tangled web of lies, deceit, greed and a massive cover-up by corrupt BLM operatives and the all-powerful St. Martjin Mining Company.
Together, she and Jim Ludlow, a handsome and charismatic Shoshone, with a gift for helping traumatized horses, set out to uncover the truth of what happened to the two missing women, and the plight of the mustangs. Along the way they find themselves growing more and more attracted to each other, as they learn to heal each other's pain.
This story, inspired by actual events that occurred in northern Navada, works on several levels. It is a mystery, a thriller, and a romance, with strong supernatural elements.. First and foremost though, it highlights the threat to the survival of the North American mustang and the parallel between their plight and that which the Native American Indian has also had to endure in the past, and still does to a certain degree.
I have to be honest and say that there is are some profanity in the book which I felt was not necessary, and not really in character, but this did not prevent me from wanting to continue reading. The two lead characters are strong and likeable, but both Kate and Jim hide wounds, Jim is a recovering alcoholic, after a failed marriage; Kate bears the scars of a childhood spent knowing she was unwanted and that her mother resented her, followed by the death of her stepfather whom she adored, and the loss of her beloved horse. Thrown together by their joint concern for the mustangs, they face life threatening danger as they delve deeper and deeper into what they suspect is a massive cover-up.
The hero, Jim Ludlow is every woman's ideal man, despite his past slide into alcoholism. As well as sizzling good looks, he has charm and courage and is the perfect partner for Kate, who refuses to be bullied by officialdom and whose courage and determination match his own. The dramatic and exciting events are relieved by the occasional touch of humour and the mystery is heightened by the appearance of a 'phantom' horse at key points in the story.
The thrilling climax will have you on the edge of your seat, but the battle is still not over and events culminate in a beautifully described scene which is both eerie and poignant.
As a UK author and reader, I have long admired the Native American Indians and their respect and reverence for their environment and the animals that share it with them. I think Nell brings this across in her book very well in her descriptions of Jim and his close-knit and supportive Native family.
An ardent horse lover myself, I found parts of the book hard to read, but to skip these pages one would be guilty of metaphorically 'burying one's head in the sand'. It is a sad fact that these beautiful and iconic horses are being rounded up and sold for horsemeat for no other reason than that they are 'in the way'. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read 'The Bone Trail' and sincerely hope Nell Walton's book will help heighten awareness and strengthen the fight to prevent the destruction and possible extinction of America's feral horses.
The Bone Trail is available online at Amazon.com
and at Smashwords
I hope you'll come back tomorrow when Nell will be talking about how an ancient Indian legend inspired her to write this story.
I received a complimentary copy of The Bone Trail by Nell Walton from Pump Up Your Book Promotions as part of the tour. No payment was offered or accepted for the review which is the honest and unbiased opinion of the author of this blog.