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On location in Colorado for her syndicated television show, Gardening with Nature, filming alpine butterflies and avalanche lilies, Louise Eldridge can see why this beautiful terrain is as precious as gold. Then the pure Rocky Mountain air is fouled by the discovery of elderly rancher Jimmy Porter's body, shot to death and draped like a coyote carcass over his own backyard fence. Louise soon discovers a staggering list of suspects, since Jimmy's plan to sell his 13,000-acre ranch to a government preservation program left a lot of family, friends, and competitors with much to lose. Throw in a second death, a closed nuclear plant, a CIA investigation involving Louise's husband, and a bullet hole in her cowboy hat, and Louise suddenly realizes she's onto a killer as hardy as the native skeleton weed-and seemingly as indestructible.