4 out of 4 stars
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Tabikat is a crime and mystery novel written by Harriet Redfern.
The book begins with a prologue that contains news reports about the discovery of an unidentified body alongside the A40 outside GCHQ then flashes back six months earlier.
James Sampfield Peveril, known to his friends as Sam, the wealthy horse trainer and owner of Sampfield Grange, receives an unexpected and strange visit from a long lost childhood friend, Frank Stanley. Stranger still is the request Frank makes, that is, to give a certain Isabela Hall a temporary job as his office manager.
Isabella’s arrival in the house creates turmoil among the household staff of Sampfield Grange as each employee feels threatened by the newcomer and suspicious of her presence. As they speculate about Isabella, another surprise rocks Sam’s monotonous and predictable life. Tabikat, a talented racehorse bred in Ireland, is transferred to his property to train for the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup. Who really is Isabella Hall? and Why is Tabikat transferred to his care? are only two of the questions nagging at Sam’s mind.
With a steady pace and told in the third person perspective, the book was a suspenseful and thought-provoking story not just about horse racing and horse training. It was also about organized crime, murder, cybercrime, drug dealing, obsession and revenge. Moreover, the author described how people react to change. Some people were threatened, some were suspicious, and some were even scared. Generally, however, people were apprehensive over things they did not understand. Furthermore, the book portrayed how a disability could limit and even hinder a person even someone as wealthy as Sam.
Initially, I got interested in this book because it reminded me of the British novelist Dick Francis. After only a few chapters, I felt glad I decided to read it. It was exciting and suspenseful, with the mystery getting deeper and deeper every chapter. The settings were described in details and the characters, even the minor ones, were well developed, complete with interesting backstories. The variation of dialogues from formal to informal English, to Welsh, then to Irish, made the story amusing and, consequently, more interesting. The author created fascinating characters including Sam, the wealthy man with an uninteresting life; Susan, the tough and brave woman; and Eoghan, the determined and diligent boy, among others.
However, the story had not only too many subplots but also too many characters, which may be confusing to other readers. The abrupt shift of topic and introduction of new characters can also be vexing. Moreover, I found the backstory on Tabikat lengthy and, in some instances, verbose. I also noticed some errors like missing words and typos, which are, thankfully, very few.
Though there were still questions left unanswered and events left unexplained, I give this book the rate of 4 out of 4 stars. It is interesting, exciting, suspenseful and entertaining with a nice and satisfying ending. I recommend it to fans of mystery and crime novels. However, there are sexual contents and violent scenes, which may not be suitable for young readers.
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