Murder resolves the Kester brothers’ disagreement over whether to continue farming or become millionaires by selling their acreage.
Owen, devoted to the land his family began cultivating eons ago, opts to keep the dairy going, the corn growing and his wife’s riding school in business. Snobbish Ethan, now a lawyer in town, wants to hold off for the highest bidder. Black sheep Matt, recently returned to the vast holding from a career in rodeo and with a penchant for wooing the ladies, says he’ll do whatever Owen wants. Owen is firm: You’ll sell this land over my dead body. That’s easily arranged by whoever left his carcass with a gun blast to the gut at the edge of the goose-hunting field abutting the property, where Jake Hines, chief of detectives for Rutherford, Minn., happens to be enjoying an afternoon off shooting fowl from a blind. Owen’s death is not the only Kester farm mishap, just the most recent. A roof has fallen on an outbuilding; wire fences have been cut, letting the horses get out and run into a truck; and Maynard, a gossipy field hand, winds up dead in Ethan’s car. Soon, everyone is quitting, leaving Owen’s widow, his aging dad and an old retainer to manage. There’ll be a little early Saturday morning trysting, a foiled attempt to waylay Owen’s autistic son and—despite all the work put in by Jake and his department—another fatality before the horrible results of sand mining and fracking are exposed.
Jake (The Ten-Mile Trials, 2010, etc.) is his usual proficient self, whether passing spoons to his almost 1-year-old son to bang around, helping wife Trudy get Thanksgiving dinner to the table or dealing with his underpaid, overworked staff.