Mad Cow Nightmare (Ruth Willmarth Series)

Mad Cow Nightmare (Ruth Willmarth Series)

by Nancy Means Wright
     
 

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Ruth Willmarth wakes one hot July night to a cacophony of drums, high-pitched warbling, and the bellowing of cows. Her lover, Colm, has invited his distant cousin, Darren, to fill in as herdsman on her Vermont farm, and Darren has brought along his extended family of volatile Irish Travellers. Among the crowd are Darren's estranged brother, Ritchie, and his

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Overview

Ruth Willmarth wakes one hot July night to a cacophony of drums, high-pitched warbling, and the bellowing of cows. Her lover, Colm, has invited his distant cousin, Darren, to fill in as herdsman on her Vermont farm, and Darren has brought along his extended family of volatile Irish Travellers. Among the crowd are Darren's estranged brother, Ritchie, and his beautiful but exhausted girlfriend, Nola, who has recently undergone brain surgery in a Toronto hospital. Now the hospital is seeking recent patients who might be infected with the human form of the fatal Mad Cow.

Almost as soon as they arrive, Ritchie is found in the local swamp, strangled with the reins of a neighbor's "darling" Morgan mare, and Nola disappears, prompting a widespread search for a "plague-carrying female killer."

The troubles pile up on Ruth's barn step when calves on the New York farm where Darren, Ritchie, and Nola worked contract Mad Cow. The Feds want to slaughter the two calves Ruth bought from that farmer and quarantine, without proof, her whole beloved herd.

Harassed by reporters, the Feds, and paranoid townsfolk, Ruth is trying to hold herself together. But when her kooky sister-in-law arrives with a van load of women to reenact an ancient Black Plague dance and demand that the "gypsies" leave, she breaks down. It takes a fire in the Travellers' trailer to bring her out of her funk. Desperate to find Nola and ascertain her state of health, Ruth springs into action.

Told in a variety of offbeat voices, and with a vibrant sense of place, Mad Cow Nightmare is the sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but always suspenseful story of a fiercely independent woman who throws herself against hate and superstition in order to save farm, family, and a dying way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Series heroine Ruth Willmarth's (Stolen Honey) persistent suitor-now her lover-invites some distant relatives to watch Ruth's Vermont cows while her helper is away. Unfortunately, one of the rowdy relatives recently had surgery in Canada and may be carrying the mad cow virus. A solid farm-based series addition. Wright lives in Cornwall, VT. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wright's latest Vermont idyll (Stolen Honey, 2002, etc.) plumbs every dairy farmer's worst nightmare. Life is so unfair. When her lover, Colm Hanna, enlisted a distant cousin, Darren O'Neill, to help Ruth Willmarth work her farm in her hired-hand's absence, Ruth had no idea that Darren would bring along his traveling family of Irish gypsies: his wife Maggie, her cousin Nola and Nola's boyfriend Ritchie, who's Darren's own cousin. And Ruth never could have imagined that Nola, whom Ritchie's just removed from a Canadian hospital, would still be sick with something that could well be Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human version of the dread mad cow disease. Clearly, Ruth needs to send the whole family packing. But before she can, Nola disappears and Ritchie is strangled to death. The obvious suspect is Nola, who hovers tantalizingly just out of reach, wandering from farm to neighboring farm. Like Calamity Jane, Nola endangers everyone she touches, from Lippitt Morgan horse breeder Franny Gates, whose beloved mare Ophelia has also gone missing, to hapless James Perlman, who just wants to put his past mistakes behind him and raise some uninfected sheep. There'll be suitably villainous supporting roles for Ruth's born-again ex-sister-in-law, Darren's uncle Tormey Leary and the United States Department of Agriculture. The mystery of Ritchie's death manages to be both tangled and predictable, but the masterfully evoked terror of mad cow makes Ruth's fifth her most sharply focused yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312331337
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Series:
Mysteries Featuring Ruth Willmarth Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.97(d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Means Wright lives, writes, and teaches in the environs of Middlebury, Vermont. This is her eleventh book and her fifth mystery featuring Ruth Willmarth. Ruth is also the protagonist of the novella Fire and Ice, in Worldwide Library's anthology Crimes of Passion.

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