Incorrigible busybody/veterinarian Gail McCarthy is a sheriff's nightmare, always questioning suspects in murder cases that she has only the slightest interest in. This time, she starts nosing around because her old school friend Joanna Lund, who was so hot to be introduced to much-married cattle baron Jack Hollister at a convention at Lake Tahoe, looks like the most prominent suspect when Jack's shot to death on the heels of their first dinner together. And when she hears that apart from the ranch he's left to the state as parkland, Jack's will divides his estate up among his three ex-wives, Gail--already angry at the bile the most recent of them, cruelly incompetent horse-trainer Tara Hollister, has been spitting at her--just can't keep herself from bending the ear of the detectives back home in Santa Cruz about how suspicious Tara's been acting, or from driving around to talk to Jack's hands, possible alibi witnesses, and of course exes one and two (who conveniently turn out to have connections to the case they wouldn't want anybody to know about). In fact, between unauthorized cross-examinations of the subjects--whom Gail quizzes with all the finesse of Raymond Burr at his most acerbic--and more pleasant interludes for her trademark veterinary calls, Gail's such a busy bee that even the obligatory death threats have to be squeezed in toward the end. Gail's third (Hoofprints, 1996, etc.) features transparent mystery-mongering, wafer-thin characters, and some of the nicest horses you'll ever meet.