Jim Moore, who died May 19 at age 89, set his final murder mystery in 1950 in the Bozeman area, and centered the tale around a group of friends, all participants in college rodeo events.
Eight seconds is the qualifying time for a rodeo bronc rider to stay in the saddle. By the coroner’s account, it likely took less than eight seconds for the victim, a Montana State College co-ed, to die of a stab wound to her neck.
After an outing to the local hot springs one evening, no one notices that Summer Hetherington has been left behind. When her dead body is discovered in a pool at the hot springs the next morning, a lengthy murder investigation begins, and the prime suspect is one of Heather’s closest friends, Cass Bruce.
Solid evidence points to him as the last person to see her alive. However, interviews and observations uncover complications in the young woman’s life that even Cass, her best friend, was unaware of.
The author’s legal expertise and investigative talents come into play in this detailed account of the process of finding and exposing the guilty party. Compelling courtroom dialogs were Moore’s specialty and he did not disappoint in his final book, giving credible voice to the participants in proceedings throughout the trial process.
During his years as a student at Montana State College (now Montana State University), Moore competed in college rodeo events. He enrolled in a correspondence course in the law, passed the Montana Bar Exam and was admitted to the practice of law in 1967. He was elected to the Montana State Senate the same week. Moore served three sessions in the Senate and was selected by his colleagues as the Republican Minority Leader for his last two.
In 1975, he opened a law practice in Bozeman and continued to manage the ranch. He retired from the practice of law in 1997 – and started writing.He eventually earned a law degree, served two terms in the state legislature and is now retired from the firm he founded in Bozeman.
His other novels, all published by Janet Moorhead Hill, were Ride the Jawbone (2011), Election Day (2012), The Body on the Floor of the Rotunda (2013), The Jenny (2015),
– Judy Shafter