Four years after Josane Ashmore was pronounced dead, her mother Reenie's still convinced her way ward horse didn't accidentally throw her, and she wants Natalie Gold, of the Charlotte Commercial Appeal, to find out who murdered her. But how can Nattie solve the mystery when she's stuck behind the features desk, and her slave-driving editor will give her and investigative reporter Henry Goode only a week on the story, and Henry's preoccupied by a rambling letter he and a lot of other folks have been sent a copy of--a vaguely threatening letter accompanied by a very specific, indeed alphabetized, list of ostensible targets? More to the point, how can Nattie ever get down to brass tacks when Jaffe (Horse of a Different Killer, 1995) canters through the leisurely first half of her tale as if through a weekend in the country? Relax and enjoy Nattie's ingratiating complaints about everything from the dearth of good men on the show-jumping circuit to the problems of being Jewish during a Dixie Yuletide, and eventually you'll be rewarded with revelations linking Josane's death to big tobacco, petty jealousy, and that tidy correspondent's alphabetical list--though not before victims A and B, together with some prime horseflesh and lesser human creatures, are called to abrupt exits. Plotting as dense as chocolate fudge, if you can overlook that intolerable stretch before the first hurdle.