Geologist Em Hansen, the unhappy heroine of this series (Mother Nature, 1997, etc.), is helping out at the Wyoming ranch inherited by her recently widowed mother, and is also recovering from her father’s death and the loss of her job in Denver with now-defunct Blackfeet Oil, when she’s visited by Joe Menken, her old boss at Blackfeet. Some months ago, Joe’s wife Miriam suffered a violent death’seemingly of forced cocaine poisoning--in the ranch house she and teenage daughter Cecelia had rented for the summer. The case is still unsolved, and a traumatized Cecelia remembers nothing, even though she—d placed a hysterical emergency call at the time. Therapy isn—t working, and Joe wants Em, who had been close to the girl, to come back to Denver and try to help his daughter while he assists in Em’s job search. Settled in a rented room, Em is soon entangled is a multifaceted investigation--finding more productive therapy for Cecelia; studying Miriam’s diaries, which detail her attraction to one Chandler, a mysterious blond hunk; and suspecting all kinds of chicanery at possible employer Boomer Oil, headed by Fred Howard, sometimes seen in the company of reputed hit man Al Rosenblatt. Em’s periodic reports to old friend Sergeant Carlos Ortega of the Denver police, and his fervent warnings, don—t halt her increasingly frantic, eventually successful stabs at finding Miriam’s killer--a near deadly solo flight in a plane included. Chaotic plotting, unconvincing characters, reams of psychobabble, going-nowhere dialogue, and more than you ever wanted to know about oil drilling and flying alone: an ambitious downer.