Equestrienne Tink Elledge is back to juggle husbands and solve murders in the Sierra Nevada.
In pursuit of a runaway horse near Truckee, California, Tink runs smack into the Institute for Biology and Higher Mind and a fast-talking PR man. With him is someone who looks vaguely familiar. Not until he visits the ranch where Tink is lodging while she trains for the Tevis Cup does she realize the stranger is Paul Savage, her first husband of 30 years ago. Tink’s had plenty to distract her since then, including two more husbands (one she married twice) and some genuine remorse for the way she treated Paul. She’s even more surprised to find out the institute is owned by James Grant-Worthington, a molecular biologist for whose company her third husband, Charlie Reidermann, is negotiating in a protective buyout. More shocking still is Grant-Worthington’s sudden death. His companion, Celeste Fuertes, the institute director, seems sincere in her grief, but Tink is still suspicious of her. Charlie, who’s come west with Tink’s stepson so they can watch the endurance race, has his own doubts about whether Grant-Worthington died from natural causes, and Tink wonders what Paul’s business connection is to the institute. A second will that only Celeste knew about, a former employee of the institute who goes on a shooting spree and perils evenly distributed among the leading characters crowd some of them right off the stage and into oblivion. What’s left is a plot that depends on several implausible coincidences, two superstupid goons and one Unitarian.
A plethora of flashbacks and shifts in point of view added to an uneven tone undercut Menino’s second attempt to make us love the thrice-divorced heroine (Murder, She Rode, 2013) who sits prettily on a horse and a pile of money.