Helen M. Hogan of Fort Worth, brings out her fourth novel this spring. RIDGECREST RESCUE, a feature of the Publish America spring lineup, brings murder and romance to the Colorado Rockies at a series of Arabian horse shows.
Helen taught writing and literature for Tarrant County College for thirty years before retiring. She wrote several novels in her spare time while showing her horses in hunter, jumper,dressage, and many disciplines of the Arabian division. In retirement, she worked to find a publisher.
Within the first three pages Warning Shot’s reader sweats in South Texas September heat as Marshsll McCraddock discovers his dean’s stabbed body becomes prime suspect. Marsh struggles with grief over the loss of his best friend while taking on the job of dean of the agricultural college the Saturday before registration. The new teacher Alex Martin, hired by the dead dean to run an experimental new English program for the ag students, irritates Marsh at every turn, starting with the interview by detective Sanders. She rides her ugly horse too fast and has no inclination to climb the intricate social ladder of college politics. She challenges Marsh’s most difficult professor, good ol’ boy Henderson, to a horsemanship contest over Marsh’s protest.
As a widower of two years, Marsh contends with sweeping emotions. He resents Alex’s offer to help one of the English teachers go to Mexico for an abortion but feels helpless to stop her. When hooded figures hold him at gunpoint and beat him, he refuses to heed their warning and stop working with Dean Brown’s family to find the killer. His only dependable friend, Sergeant Scott of the police force, warns him that Detective Sanders still likes him for the murder. At the college rodeo, love story and mystery collide. Marsh overhears part of a conversation about Alex, concluding that she is flirting with their neighbor D.R. Adams, a man who slaps his wife around and intimidates his stepson. A rifle shot creases the skull of an ag professor wearing a white shirt and a hat similar to Marsh’s. Scott says, “That shot was meant for you, compadre.”
Helen Hogan, an experienced horsewoman and retired English professor, creates realistic action scenes and uses an omnipotent approach to get into the heads of her main characters. Hogan’s main plot ends like the final act of a tragedy with bodies on stage. She weaves the tension of the equestrian subplot to tantalize horse lovers with chase scenes and the ultimate contest, the race, where the heroine’s horse surprises his detractors who saw only his floppy ears and gawky conformation.
Richer than traditional romance and more complex than the average mystery, Hogan’s novel Warning Shot has earned praise from novelists and horsemen.
“She builds a suspense plot with skill,” comments Edward McGhee, author of The Chinese Ultimatum.
“She makes you care about her characters, and she can write a good fight scene,” says award winning Western writer John McCord.
“I meant to read for an hour and couldn’t put it down ‘til 3:00 a.m., “ complains Evelyn Wilson, English Department Chair.
“I’m calling long distance to tell you how much I enjoyed Warning Shot. The tension was gripping, and you made me feel I was right there in South Texas in the sixties. Of course I loved the horse sequences.” Horse breeder William Ball.
DRIVEN TO WIN
DRIVEN TO WIN pits an American carriage driver against a murderer at the World Four-in-Hand Championship. When muggers smash Eric Magee’s hands the day of his arrival, he becomes desperate to persuade the committee to allow him to ride on the box of his carriage and direct a substitute driver. The members want to appear to help him, though none believe he has a chance. In a whimsical twist, they declare that if the driver is his wife, “the head may talk to the hands.” His girlfriend Calder, though lacking in experience, agrees, but still intends to show her own horse in a local event. On her first practice drive, she discovers the body of the reigning world champion driver, and Eric must prove that his mugging is connected to the slaying.
Mike McLennan, American driver competing for world titles, says of Driven to Win, "She doesn't leave time for a mouse to sneeze. I was amazed at her understanding of the politics at these events."
UNICORNS DON'T WEAR SHOES
UNICORNS DON’T WEAR SHOES she rates as GP, The hero is a high school principal in Alvarado, Texas, where he rides his Quarter Horse stallion in “Non-Pro” cutting competitions. The night after Wesley Wilson meets Cathy McCleod at a cutting event, he discovers a body at the stable where he boards his Quarter Horse stallion Skipabeat.
The detective grills him, “How do you know this man? Who is he?” Sheriff’s deputy Tommy Counts cannot believe the school principal does not know the dead man. Because the victim is dark skinned with black hair, investigators think he is Mexican. But Deputy Andy Rourke says he’s no Mexican.
Wes has enough trouble trying to stay clear of the detective, but .. Wes and retired teacher Miss Millie suspect fraud at Fellowship Farms when they save her pony from the killing pen.
Wes barely has time to make the school board meeting where he battles for his budget In a rare moment with Cathy, he takes her in his arms when his phone rings. One of his teachers is accused in the disappearance of a girl student from his high school.
Mix in a surly stable foreman and a terrorist connection for an explosive conclusion.