New in April 2016
The Shady Sisters


New in 2014
Acts of Balance


New Historical Novel:
    Queens Never
    Make Bargains


    Questions for
    Midnight Fires


Walking into the Wild
Broken Strings


Nancy's Backstory


Ruth Willmarth


Nancy's Books:
Mad Season
Harvest of Bones
Poison Apples
Stolen Honey
Fire and Ice
Mad Cow     Nightmare
The above 5 novels in print, and now
e-books, Belgrave House.
The Losing


Nancy's Books for Children:
The Pea Soup

Agatha Award 2006
Best Children's/YA Novel
Down the Strings
The Great Circus
    Train Robbery

Agatha Finalist


Make Your Own
Vermonters at
    their Craft


Buy Books
Find an Agent
How I Write
An Interview with
Another Interview
    with Nancy
Brief Bio For Busy Librarians (and other readers)
Contact Nancy
Nancy Means Wright

Mad Cow Nightmare

Ruth Willmarth wakes one hot July night to a cacophony of drums, accordians, high-pitched warbling, and the bellowing of cows. Her lover Colm has invited his distant cousin Darren to fill in as herdsman on her Vermont farm, but Darren has brought along his extended family of volatile Irish Travellers. Among the crowd are Darren's estranged brother Ritchie and his beautiful but exhausted girlfriend, Nola, who has recently undergone brain surgery in a Toronto hospital. Unknown to Ruth, the hospital is seeking patients who might be infected with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of the fatal Mad Cow.

But Nola disappears, and Ritchie is found in the local swamp, strangled with the reins of a neighbor's "darling" Morgan mare, prompting a widespread search for a "plague-carrying, female killer." The mare, too, vanishes, to the secret satisfaction of the owner's jealous partner!

The troubles pile up on Ruth's barn-step when calves on the N.Y. farm where Darren, Ritchie and Nola worked, contract Mad Cow; and now the feds want to slaughter the two calves Ruth bought from that farmer, and quarantine, without proof, her whole beloved herd.

Now in Paperback at $5.99 from Worldwide Library (ISBN 0-373-26560-3)

Harrassed by reporters, feds, and paranoid townsfolk, Ruth has her back up. She polishes her ex-husband's hunting rifle; Darren's granny squats by the calf pens with her potbellied pig and shotgun. But when Ruth's kooky sister-in-law arrives with a vanload of women to reenact an ancient Black Plague dance and demand that the "gypsies" leave, a despairing Ruth breaks down.

It takes a fire in the Travellers' trailer to bring her out of her funk; and desperate to find Nola and ascertain her state of health, Ruth springs into action. And ultimately farmers, Travellers, neighbors, armed feds, and spooked cows slam together in a whirlwind climax. Told in a variety of offbeat voices, and with a vibrant sense of place, Mad Cow Nightmare is the sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking—but always suspenseful story of a strong-minded farmwoman and her extended family, whose lives are dramatically altered by the threat of plague.

Read Chapter One and Two of Mad Cow Nightmare.














© Copyright 2001 - 2014, Nancy Means Wright. All rights reserved.

This site maintained by
T.D. Bennett Group, Inc.