It's Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother's husband, Sam, who are enthusiastically embarking on a new enterprise--turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. But Leatha calls with bad news: Sam has had a heart attack. She does have a helper, Sue Ellen Krause. But China discovers that Sue Ellen, who is in the process of leaving her marriage to the assistant foreman at a large trophy game ranch, is in some serious trouble. Before Sue Ellen can tell China the full story, her car veers off a deserted road and she is killed. China begins to wonder if Sue Ellen's death may not have been an accident in this complex case of theft and murder in a South Texas ranching community.