Reopening the murder case of a wicked stepmother.
When would-be environmental terrorist Astrid Callister dies in the arms of her lover, an employee at the Dodd Mines, in a Montana mountain cabin, her much older husband John, a respected wildlife biologist, is suspected but never charged, although innuendo ruins his community standing. On his death, Renee, his daughter from his first marriage, asks her childhood crush, Montana carpenter/sleuth Hugh Davoren (Lone Creek, 2007), to redeem her father from ignominy. Renee has found a stash of semi-porno pictures of Astrid and one flashy earring hidden in the old homestead. Do they point to someone else as the murderer? With an assist from his pal Madbird, who takes time out from seeking vengeance on his niece’s married lover to help, Hugh investigates possibilities from Helena to Missoula. For his trouble, he winds up with gun-shot ribs, a trashed pickup truck and a maimed tomcat—not to mention a dust-off from the formerly willing Renee—while the story implodes with a chase after a heretofore unlikely suspect.
Hugh and Madbird, a western variation on the Spenser-Hawk pairing, trudge through some great scenery and a glaringly inadequate plot. Who knew Montana was home to so many red herrings?