Despite owning a charming house smothered in vintage roses, having two attractive men—Clay Bishop and Blue Winter—on a string, and holding a partnership in a Santa Cruz veterinary practice specializing in horses, 40ish Gail McCarthy can’t shake a depression that has her heading for long naps on her couch at every opportunity. She barely rouses herself to attend therapy sessions—or to take action when someone comes into the barns at night to assault the mares of her old friend Kris, a frisky divorcée, and her new friend, artist Nicole Devereaux. Could the new hand at the Bishop Ranch be into bestiality? Could Clay or Blue? Jeri Ward, a horse owner and a cop, warns Gail to be careful. So does Mike O’Hara, a horse owner and an uptight former cop. All to no avail: Gail mounts her trusty steed Plumber and rides out trying to find the trail the pervert takes to the mares. The cougar she meets offers a dangerous interlude, but no clues. But after Kris’s daughter is knocked out, Nicole is murdered and then raped, and a bout of all-night weeping at this tragedy and the memories of past losses it triggers lifts Gail’s depression. With an assist from Jeri, she sets a trap for the rapist, culminating in a pathetic confession and a well-placed bullet.
Crum (Slickrock, 1999, etc.) undercuts this tale of bestiality with an incongruous emphasis on room decor, rose cultivation, and Gail’s inability to commit. And for a vet to tire out poor Plumber that way is unconscionable.