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 right horse 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.