cover image Bum Steer: A Jenny Cain Mystery

Bum Steer: A Jenny Cain Mystery

Nancy Pickard. Pocket Books, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-68040-4

Jenny Cain, last seen in Dead Crazy , finds herself far from home when the Port Frederick, Mass., Civic Foundation is named heir to a cattle ranch in Kansas by wealthy rancher Cat Benet. As director of the foundation, Jenny is summoned to the dying Benet's bedside in a Kansas City hospital, where he is murdered before they can meet. The only conditions that the foundation must observe to inherit are to never allow any of Benet's kin to set foot on the ranch and to provide lifetime jobs for two employees, cowboys Quentin (Slight) Harlan and Carl Everett. The rest of Benet's vast fortune is left to his three living ex-wives, four adult children he has seldom seen, his sister and her son. Suspicious of the whole setup, especially since she and the foundation had never heard of Benet before, Jenny investigates the murder and, after visits to the ranch, to Texas and to Benet's wives and offspring, uncovers long-held family secrets. Pickard writes fluidly on family ties, both good and bad, while her appealing detective displays warmth, intelligence and a social conscience as she perseveres in her search for the truth. ( Mar. )