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The Masters Ball: A Murder Mystery by Anne-Marie Lacy


Book Review by Tommy Brannon, MFH; Illustrations by Poppy Hall
Almost everyone likes a juicy murder mystery and most like a chilling ghost story. How about a good fox hunting story in the tradition of Tom Jones? Combine all of the above, place it in twenty-first century Middle Tennessee, and you have The Masters Ball by Anne-Marie Lacy.

Annabelle Farley, the protagonist heroine of the story, is a reluctant sleuth who is cast in this role by the ghost of her murdered friend, Edmond Evans, MFH of the Hill Country Hounds. Annabelle and her husband Nick, who is also Jt. Master, are attending the Masters Ball at The Pierre Hotel in New York City, when Edmond is discovered dead at the bottom of the staircase, dressed in his scarlet tails. Everyone including the authorities assume that his decent down the staircase was an accident. Edmond’s ghost however, knows that that was not the case and haunts Annabelle as a flirtatious friendly apparition. He enlists her help in bringing his killer to justice. He tells Annabelle who the culprit is, but the reader is kept in the dark. It wouldn’t be “who-done-it” if the reader knew who did it! Not content with just one murder, the villain later kills the aged dowager of the Hill Country Hounds, as well.        

Most of the setting of the book is in Middle Tennessee, south of Nashville. The social world consists of fox hunters who own hunt boxes (second homes in the hunt country), but live in Nashville. They are professionals who work hard and play hard. In addition to foxhunting with the Hill Country Hounds, Annabelle also foxhunts as a guest with the Waterford Hounds. 

There is a mix of characters – almost all fox hunters or their employ, as well as the local sheriff. The characters’ attributes and flaws are well described so that one gets to know each individually. 

Also well described is the hunt country and the fast action of the fox hunt. 

The horses are just as much the characters in the book as the humans, including Annabelle’s horse Sampson. 
The author’s firsthand knowledge of the sport takes the reader to the middle of the action, as if mounted and riding to hounds. One wishes that every hunt could be as exciting in real life! The intrigue has one turning the pages as fast as a good hunter can gallop.    

About the author: Anne-Marie Lacy lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Allen Lacy. A former City Attorney and prosecutor, she is currently in private practice specializing in criminal defense. She has been a foxhunter for seventeen years, and has been a member of the Mooreland Hounds in Alabama and the Hillsboro Hounds in Tennessee. She is now Hunt Secretary for Albert Menefee’s Cedar Knob Hounds.  The Masters Ball is her first novel.

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