A Jim Bob Masterson Mystery by Harry Haines
Review: Harry Haines crafts a novel of love, greed, and murder in Orphan, a book so beautifully written that it should be kept near to be cherished again.
A tragic accident has occurred on the highway to Amarillo, Texas. An old pickup truck pulling a horse trailer with a mare and her colt collides with a car and is overturned. The drivers are dead, and the mare has internal damages. The colt, about two weeks old, manages to get out of the trailer unscathed, but stays close to be with his dying mother. Dr. Jim Bob Masterson, on his way home to his ranch in Bushland, comes upon the wreckage. Masterson has his cattle trailer hitched to the truck. The police on the scene recognize him and ask him to talk the colt to his ranch for a few days until they find the owner's relatives. This begins the one aspect of the mystery in this story: who actually owns the colt, a thoroughbred horse, who Jim Bob names Orphan?
Separately, Liz Masterson, Jim Bob's daughter and aged twenty-five, is making her starring debut in the Metropolitan Opera's "Madam Butterfly". After a beautiful performance in the first act, it is announced that she is ill and will not be able to return for the remainder of the performance. The reason: Liz is diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. When she is able to be brought home she bonds with the colt and the colt with her. All is going well for Liz until two people come demanding possession of the colt. One is the ex-wife of the truck driver and the other a billionaire who knows the history of Orphan. The stress of a court trial becomes too much for Liz and her remission has reversed itself. Realizing this colt had much to do with Liz's health, Jim Bob fights for the right to keep him. The judge, however, says he must be put up for auction. How can Masterson compete with a billionaire? Or even a wife who has a will stating the horse is hers?
Haines is brilliant in his depth of development of the characters in Orphan. Each is brought to life in such a way that they bond with the reader. When Liz's parents realize that, after mortgaging everything they have to bid at auction for Orphan, they will be easily outbid by the billionaire, it's both heartbreaking and uplifting. This family loves, laughs, and cries together. It is a joy to read such a wonderful story within a mystery and especially one that doesn't need to resort to bad language or unnecessary violence to accomplish its goal. Orphan is one of the best books of the year.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Orphan.
Acknowledgment: Book Trends provided an ARC of Orphan for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Mayhaven Publishing (Hardcover), October 2009
ISBN-13: 9781932278606; ISBN-10: 1932278605
Location(s) referenced in Orphan: Texas
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Orphan by Harry Haines — A Jim Bob Masterson Mystery
Publisher: Mayhaven Publishing
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $26.95