Zen takes the reader on a perfect 20-meter circle of international equestrian intrigue, reminiscent in its art history intrigue to the 2015 film Woman in Gold, and replete with an array of characters whose motives and methods will keep you guessing page after turning page. So curl up in your favorite reading corner and saddle up for a ride through worlds dangerous and delightful in Zen, author Andrea Steele's second gripping adventure in her three-part series.
L.A. Sokolowski The Original Equinista (TM) (646) 920-9510
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Albany NY 12208
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Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Andrea Steele Publisher: Mouse Hole Farm Press
Website/Ordering Link: https://www.facebook.com/awilsonsteele
William ("Zen") operates in two worlds: as a champion horse rider who has found a steed that may propel him into the Olympics, and as an investigator whose team works closely with him to solve mysteries.
When their bid on a seemingly invaluable art piece turns into full-fledged danger and intrigue, Zen is called upon to solve an international smuggling mystery even as he faces a crisis on the show jumping circuit that melds both worlds into one big puzzle.
Zen's ability to operate in these two very different arenas, juxtaposing horse showing experiences with the fast pace of an investigation that turns deadly, may initially stymie those who look for a hastier, more casual pace, but Andrea Steele takes the time to carefully craft both worlds. This pays off big, with a sense of place, authenticity, and purpose that would have been lacking in a more cursory coverage of either atmosphere.
Readers receive a fine inspection of choices, purposes, and clashes of personalities, from Val and Trudie's involvement in schemes that ultimately thwart their own best interests to Zen's struggle to keep his meditative personality on track with his ability to both win in competition and solve puzzles that challenge those around him.
The steady progression of these special interests and their disparate milieus creates a full-bodied read that is delightfully mercurial and intriguing. Perhaps the story's greatest strength is to pull together the seemingly unrelated threads that wind through the hearts, minds, and motives of not just Zen, but those around him.
Thriller fans seeking a story that operates on many different levels, from career and life fulfillment to love and moral and ethical questions, will relish Zen's special ability to draw its reader into a series of events that solve and create problems simultaneously.
It's an excellent probe into the world of art smuggling that adds just enough history to be thoroughly absorbing without requiring any background in the art world. Likewise, no knowledge of horses is needed to appreciate the exciting world of international show jumping— the plot is grounded in an absorbing mystery that will captivate a broad audience.
With characters that are at once strong and vulnerable, wise and clueless, and mercurial in their purposes and perspectives, Zen offers a taste of something different. It will especially appeal to fans of Dick Francis, with its horse-related brand of intrigue.