What do you do when everything you've held to be true, when your entire life, in fact, turns out to be a lie? Do you run away? Start over? Create a new truth? This is the dilemma faced by what twenty-two-year old Stephen Cline. Bruised in body and psyche from his adventures in At Risk, Steve gets another blow in Dead Man's Touch, the sudden death of his estranged father in an automobile accident. At the funeral, Steve's disgruntled older brother calls him a bastard -- and means it. Literally. Steve, he reveals, is the product of an affair. Confronting his socialite mother, Steve learns that his real father is a horse trainer, Christopher J. Kessler.
Curiosity gets the best of Steve, who's on leave from his job at Foxdale stables, so he heads for the Maryland track where he can find Kessler. The trainer soon notices that Steve is shadowing him and accuses Steve of working for a group of men intent on pressuring him to throw select races in a lucrative race-fixing scam. When Kessler learns that he's a father and Steve is his son, he recruits Steve to work undercover at his training barn to thwart the fix by discovering who's been doping the most promising horses.
As Steve settles in, he gets caught up in the unique lifestyle inherent to the backside. Everyone who works there lives and breathes it--the hopes and the dreams along with the shattering disappointments--until the work itself becomes a way of life. For a man recovering his health, and his courage after an earlier brush with the kind of toughs who can make a life with horses a nightmare, the backside is an inspiration.
But it is not a life without peril--some men are willing to do anything to get the righthorse under the wire first. Anything from threats to violence to murder. As Steve puts pressure on the bad guys, a young woman is found dead in a horse's stall, and Steve becomes the prime suspect in her murder. He must now discover the ringleader's identity to keep from being put in jail, or worse, in the ground.
"The smart money could make the unusually likable protagonist a favorite in the Francis Stakes" said Kirkus Reviews of Steve Cline's first appearance in 2002's At Risk, the start of a promising career for him and for author Kit Ehrman. Publishers Weekly adds: "Both horse lovers and crime fans who've never stepped into a stirrup will relish Ehrman's riveting debut."