A subdued, moody, un-mysterious outing for Gabe Wager of the Denver Police (Strip Search, etc.)--with less emphasis on detection than on romance and local colorings, from rodeos to river-rafting. The case begins when the somber cop gets a plea from former rodeo star Tommy Sanchez, a bygone hero of their barrio neighborhood: Tommy, long estranged from his two sons, asks old friend Wager to look into rumors that the boys--now themselves on the rodeo circuit--are in some sort of trouble. And though Wager finds no hard evidence that John and James Sanchez are involved in anything fishy, he eventually escalates the investigation--because old loner Tommy is soon found beaten to death on the highway. Did the Sanchez boys have something to do with their father's death? To find out, Wager takes a rare vacation--with girlfriend Jo--near the ranch where John and James work during the week. They ride; they fish; they snoop--and finally, to confirm Wager's suspicions about what's going on at the ranch (no big surprise), they embark on a river-raft journey. . .with fatal results. Disappointing as mystery--but some readers will take to the richly detailed rodeo/river scenery, while others will be held by the edgy Wager/Jo relationship (she keeps trying to break through his macho).