Hairdresser Marla Vail (Hanging by a Hair, 2014, etc.) spends her honeymoon at the dude ranch from hell.
Marla is annoyed when her handsome husband, Dalton, accepts his cousin Wayne’s offer of a post-wedding stay at the Last Trail Dude Ranch in Arizona. She’d rather be lounging by the pool in a Caribbean resort than riding ponies up dusty trails and learning the mysterious ways of saguaro cactuses. And she’s even more annoyed to learn that Wayne and his wife, Carol, have asked Dalton to check out a string of mishaps at the ranch, ranging from a fire in the kitchen to a flood caused by an open valve on the water heater. She’s somewhat mollified when she sees their beautiful mountaintop hacienda. And she enjoys sharing meals with Wayne, Carol, and Wayne’s sister, Annie, a nutritionist with a keen sense of purpose. Dalton’s Uncle Ray, Wayne and Annie’s father, is a different story. He seems obsessed with restoring the ghost town of Craggy Peak, just outside the ranch, claiming that making the town a tourist attraction will enhance the ranch’s business. Uncle Ray’s connection to the past is complicated: something happened years ago that caused Dalton’ mother to break off relations with her brother entirely, and neither sibling will discuss the issue. Ray also has a history of ill-feeling with neighboring rancher Hugh Donovan. Now Hugh is accusing Ray of poisoning his cattle and causing a drought at his ranch, while Ray thinks Hugh might be to blame for a series of accidents at Craggy Peak. But when experienced forest ranger Garrett Long falls to his death on a trail he knew well, Marla and Dalton begin to think that the troubles at Last Trail are more than a series of pranks.
As usual, it’s just a matter of time before Marla risks life and limb to help her husband solve a case that’s bigger than either of them anticipated.