Dark Horse was the first book I’ve ever read by Tami Hoag, and I definitely enjoyed it. The story begins with an emotionally and physically broken ex-police detective who is simply trying to get through each and every day. In order to do so, she’s turned to horses.
As an adoptee of a very wealthy couple, Elena Estes spent plenty of time riding and caring for horses. As an adult, Elena feels as if they’re the only thing that can help her get over the colossal screw up that ended her career on the police force. While attempting to get over the mistakes she’s made, Elena takes on the job of grooming horses for her childhood friend. The grooming job somehow leads to a photo in Sidelines Magazine identifying Elena as a private investigator, which ultimately leads to Elena getting sucked back into the investigative underworld. (Sidelines Magazine is a real publication, as is the setting of Dark Horse. Find out more in the video above.)
Before she knows it, Elena is neck deep in a kidnapping-murder-insurance plot which involves a teenage girl, a dead horse, an apathetic and controlling step father, and a whole slew of extremely wealthy group of individuals who are sorely lacking in morality.
Elena is hired by a 12-year-old girl to help find the girl’s missing 18-year-old sister, and soon Elena is traversing a story filled with more twists and turns than even the most seasoned mystery reader would expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, though I found some of the more graphic and gruesome details of the kidnapping difficult to stomach.
As I was reading the story, one particular paragraph stood out to me, and I’ll share it below. It seems absurd that one paragraph in an entire 435-page book would stick out like this, but it did. The paragraph came as Elena was reflectively contemplating her current situation in life, where she’d been and where she was headed. It reads:
“Existence is uncomplicated. One foot in front of the other. Eat, sleep, function. Living, truly living, with all the emotion and risk that entails, is hard work. Every risk presents the possibility of both success and failure. Every emotion has a counterbalance. Fear cannot exist without hope, north without fear. I wanted neither. I had both.”
The paragraph rang true to me because it represented both the choice that Elena had to make going forward with the investigation, and it represents a choice that we each have to make every day. Going through the motions of every day life is easy, but choosing to live a vibrant, colorful and adventure-filled life is difficult. It requires risk, it requires living in the present, and it requires massive amounts of energy — but the payoff is great and well worth it.
Elena of course learned that truly living was worth the extra effort and risk, and my hope is that you do, too.
What do you think of the paragraph from the book? Do you agree or disagree?
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