Richard Wheeler is best known as a writer of western fiction, and maybe Bad Apple could be considered a western. It's set in Montana and it involves horses, that makes it a western, right?
Not exactly. It's a contemporary private-eye story that features Cletus Parr, who wears boots and jeans and fancy western shirts while looking into matters involving livestock, very expensive livestock, in this case. A horse named Bad Apple has been killed, and Parr is out to find the killer.
Bad Apple is a champion cutting horse (and if you don't know what that is, don't worry; Wheeler explains it very well) that's dominated the competition for years. There are a lot of people who are tired of losing to him and who are just as happy he's dead. Which one killed him? Or did any of him. Apple was slowing down, so did his owner kill him for the insurance? That's what Parr has to find out.
The setting is one that will be new to most crime-fiction readers, and it's peopled by colorful characters with lots of secrets. Parr is full of himself and not nearly as good a detective as he thinks he is, but he has the ability to get people to tell him things, which helps a lot. He has a sense of humor, too, not to mention a voluptuous secretary.
Richard Wheeler has won five Spur awards from the Western Writers of America, not to mention the Owen Wister award for lifetime achievement in the genre. Now he's trying something different, and he brings all his skills to the job. Bad Apple is fun and different from any crime novel you've read lately. Check it out.