New Mexico has more than its share of unique and well-publicized attributes, but the one they prefer to play down is the fact that they lead the United States in lightning deaths per capita. Thus, the Cottonwood Creek Country Club of Los Alamos, which is hosting the High Desert Women's Classic golf tournament, takes elaborate measures to ensure that the numbers don't go up during the high-profile tournament.
Nevertheless, disaster strikes. On the very first morning, Ted Guthrie, the chairman of the club's board of directors, is killed when a bolt of lightning strikes the umbrella he is holding aloft at the second tee; a shocking, once-in-a-million accident. Or is it? Guthrie just happens to be the most reviled man in town, and for all the best reasons, so that his death is received more with relief than in sorrow, although most would say they would have preferred a less sensational exit.
Struggling golfer Lee Ofsted, knocked out of the tournament by an elbow injury and now scrambling to meet her expenses by providing color commentary for the TV coverage, finds herself beginning to wonder - with good reason - just how accidental Guthrie's death was. She takes her fears to the police, but they are understandably unimpressed. How, they ask, do you arrange someone's death via lightning bolt? No, this was simply an unfortunate accident, nothing more. They advise Lee to stick to her job and leave them to theirs. But her suspicions of foul play are heightened when her friend Boyd Marriner, the TV producer, promptly falls dead on consuming a takeout meal of chiles rellenos and black beans.
Fortunately, her new love interest, Carmel police lieutenant Graham Sheldon, shows up unannounced. Despite his better judgment he is pulled into her hunt for the cunning killer that lurks behind the scenes. Before they are through, the two of them will come frighteningly close to being one more "unfortunate accident" statistic. Like its predecessor, A Wicked Slice, Rotten Lies is set against a backdrop of high-society country-clubbers, low-society golfers, and the travails of earning a living on the professional golf tour.
©1995 Charlotte and Aaron Elkins (P)2013 Audible, Inc.