**I received an e-book version of this book as part of my participation in LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.**

The Cart Before the Corpse
by Carolyn McSparren

Cart Before the Corpse is a cozy mystery, with Merry Abbott trying to figure out who killed the father who she was estranged from for the majority of her life. It comes as the first spin off of a collectively written series called the Mossy Creek Hometown Series. I’ve not read the latter, but they’re floating around the system, so I might try to get through at least the first one.

Merry, a horse/carriage trainer and show manager who won’t herself drive, learns at the end of a show that her father has been murdered. She drives down to where she had planned to meet her father on his new horse training farm in rural Georgia and, as the heir, must sort out who did it along with deciding whether or not to stay on the farm she now owns.

Overall the book was okay, not something I’d have picked up otherwise and not something I’m particularly interested in continuing to read. McSparren, in my opinion, was way too hung up on the idea of reconciliation between father and daughter. Merry felt a whole lot of guilt about picking up her life and moving on after repeatedly being abandoned be her father. It felt overly forced for her to spend nearly the entire book blaming herself for not reaching out earlier to a man who had rejected her. But that could just be my cynical opinion. 

As the local law is never enough in these books, a GBI agent was brought in to provide the cop side of the story as well as being the potential love interest for Merry. The voice of the character was decent, though I didn’t feel like we got enough of his story to really care about him. He seemed like a potentially interesting character.

Probably the best character was Peggy Caldwell, Merry’s father’s landlady and friend. She was well developed enough that it wouldn’t surprise me to find that she’s the character McSparren has already fleshed out in the Mossy Creek books. Her voice was very strong and she seemed like someone who would be fun to know. 

Mixed voice narrative made it occasionally confusing but it was generally clear when I’d move away from the book and return.    

If you’re interested in carriage riding, it’s a light fun read. I particularly struggled with trying to read it in e-book/on screen format (no, still no e-reader at Chez Hedgehog) and I can only hope someone did a final edit–as there were quite a number of errors in the text, particularly as the story progressed. I had trouble sticking with the narrative and really getting involved with the characters and overall, it wouldn’t be a first recommendation.