Valentine Brooke runs, on a shoestring, a riding school and stable--with some help from widowed neighbor Kit Cullen and her children Ben and Bridle. Then one of Val's grooms--15-year-old Jill Edmonds--is found murdered one morning in the stables: her co-worker Jonty Barton is silently devastated; Inspector Hobden is at a loss for a motive. Meanwhile, Val thinks that she knows who the culprit is--but keeps her suspicions to herself (for unconvincing reasons). . . while Hobden tries to connect Jill's death to the murder of Val's neighbor/client Brian Cantrell, a high-living pilot whose part-time smuggling has gotten him killed by the mob. And eventually Jonty, Ben, and a whole slew of local juvenile-riders do their own sleuthing--going through a series of misadventures before wreaking their revenge on Jill's murderer. Despite competent writing and a nicely ironic final twist: an unfocused sort of Boy's Own version of Dick Francis--with too many subplots, too many kids, and (except for YA-ish fanatics) far too many horses.