Professor Sarah Deane and doctor boyfriend Alex are once again vacation guests (Bodies of Water, 1990, etc.)--this time over Christmas at the plush Arizona Rancho Del Gato Blanco, where Sarah's rich, no-frills Aunt Julia has been staying since Thanksgiving. Through those weeks there've been several acts of mischief that disrupted the ranch's serenity--as well as that of manager Fred Arco--but Julia, owner of horse farms, has been busily planning the rescue of several aging ranch horses from the meat factory. Meanwhile, the arrival of Alaska's Senator Leo Hopgood and ranch owner Heinz Simmons, with entourages in tow, starts a chain of more sinister events beginning with the Senator's murder--and ending with a high body-count plus a solution largely engineered by Julia while the FBI and local police flounder. Crispness and tension are lost in a surfeit of dull dialogue and uncharismatic characters. The feebly contrived motivation doesn't help a boring slog only slightly redeemed by local color. Add half a plus for horse-lovers.