Hot Blood: The Millionairess, The Money, & The Horse Murders
by Ken Englade
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Summary: Hot Blood recounts true stories of a series of crimes in the tony equestrian world. Any true crime fan will enjoy this unbelievable tale.
Review: The rich are very different from the rest of us. We’ve all heard that cliche. However, after reading Hot Blood, you might be glad that you aren’t part of the 1%.
Hot Blood is two stories that are loosely held together by one federal investigation and their ties to some nefarious figures in the equestrian world.
The first thread concerns Richard Bailey, a Chicago con artist who – despite his limited education – found his way into “the horsey set.” Once there, Bailey met many lonely, older women whom he romanced in order to get access to their money. One of the women he met was Helen Brach, who had inherited the Brach Candy fortune from her husband. Helen Brach discovered that Bailey was cheating her by selling her poor quality horses. She threatened to go to the police. Then she disappeared.
The second storyline concerns Tom Burns, whom author Ken Englade describes as a “horse assassin.” Many wealthy horse owners invest in horses that fail to live up to expectations. Some owners hired Burns to kill their heavily-insured animals. The shocking part of this story is how widespread the killings were in the horse community. Some of the best-known equestrians (including Olympians and aspiring Olympians) were involved. Moreover, some of these people were so wealthy (one family was worth between $600 million and $800 million) that one wonders why they felt the need to cheat the insurance companies.
Enjoyable True Crime
Hot Blood is the best sort of true crime. It offers despicable villains, determined investigators, and other vivid characters. Readers also get a peek inside the strange world of high-stakes equestrian competitions. Some of the events recounted are unbelievable. The book has a few slow spots – particularly during the trials; but, for the most part, Englade keeps the pages turning while telling both stories.
In short, Hot Blood will please true crime fans.