Nikki Latrelle Mystery Book 5
Misterio Press Pub
June 9th, 2021
Shooting Star by Sasscer Hill is another one of her “edgy cozies.” As with all her books her plot combines greed, evil, and courage into a mystery thriller. In this book readers are back in the saddle with the main character, Nikki Latrelle.
“My first books, the early Nikki books, had individual horses prevalent. In this book I wanted to emphasize horse racing and the movie industry, how to film horse racing. This is a different type of crime and more of a thriller than a mystery. I vary the crimes. In my first Nikki book, titled, Full Mortality, it was about horse racing insurance scams. The only way owners get money is for the horse to die, not just be injured. Because of that there were some people killing horses. Nikki was determined to save the horse. Nikki is brave when defending an animal or friend. She is not very good at speaking up for herself. A rescuer and someone who looks after those in need.”
The plot has horse racing but from a Hollywood film angle, showing how Hollywood treats the animals used in a film. Nikki’s ex-lover Will hires her to protect the horses used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack, trying to keep thoroughbreds safe from a director who doesn’t know a horse from a hamster is tricky. After a sniper’s bullet kills a cameraman with her standing nearby, she goes into an investigative mode. Her sleuthing unearths a trail of corruption and when she must lie to Will to protect his life, she’s on her own. Discovering money laundering and some “enforcers” she knows that not only other film crew members, but her life as well, is in danger.
“The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) mission mission is to protect the integrity of horse racing from the corruptness and graft. The FBI is also connected with this agency. It was started back in J. Edgar Hoover’s day. Now it is about the betting to see if there is illegal stuff going on. There is also testing for drugs. It is very intricate and specialized to look for drugs of the two top winners and a random horse.”
After another incident where the main actress is injured, Nikki replaces her because of her riding experience as a jockey. The author Sasscer Hill is a former Maryland racehorse breeder, trainer, and rider, so she can write realistic stories and use her knowledge as a backdrop for her mysteries.
“The oddest thing I’ve ever researched was for the first Fia McKee book, Flamingo Road. There is a drug called Demorphin that was first used at Remington Park racetrack in Oklahoma. It is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and a few of the shoddiest and most horrible trainers were using it. Their sore or injured horses would run through the pain and win line. The drug was made from enzymes and peptides collected off the skin of a certain South American tree frog. Race trackers referred to the drug as “frog juice.” The horses would run their hearts out that would eventually cause the horses to break down. Eventually they were able to test for it and make sure the horses were not given these horrible drugs. This agency is forcing all states to consolidate testing and use the same rules throughout the US.”
This is a murder mystery that reads like a thriller. It has complex characters, and a fast-paced plot. A bonus is how readers can get an insider’s look into the world of horse-racing, what it is like to be a racing jockey, and the treatment of animals by Hollywood.