Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steven F. Havill's Red, Green, or Murder

Red, Green, or Murder is the most recent Posadas County Mystery by Steven F. Havill. During DETECTIVES AROUND THE WORLD week, I introduced you to the first book, and the last one in Havill's series. In the year I reviewed for Mystery News, I discovered a few authors, including Steven F. Havill. His books have become some of my favorite. My last review for Mystery News is reprinted here, with permission.

Red, Green, or Murder
by Steven Havill
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 978-1-59058-665-5
Police Procedural

Former Posadas County, New Mexico, Sheriff Bill Gastner retired, and is now working as a Livestock Inspector for the state. It’s a job that fits him. He can still visit friends, and he has a chance to travel the rural county. His knowledge of old friends, and the county, will stand him in good stead in this mystery.

Gastner’s official visit to Herb Torrance’s ranch sends him hurtling toward an ambulance, carrying the rancher’s son, after the young man’s knee was crushed in an accident. That one accident allowed for the opportunity for two other tragedies.

When Gastner was running late, due to the accident, he cancelled lunch with an old friend, George Payton. It wasn’t more than a couple hours before Bill received a phone call saying his protégée, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman, wanted to see him at Payton’s house. Payton’s son-in-law found him dead, and, as much as Gastner, wanted to think the old man’s time was just up, Estelle thinks there is something suspicious about the death.

If one incident wasn’t bad enough, Gastner received another phone call, saying Torrance’s cattle were in the road, herded by a dog. While the rancher was at the hospital with his son, his ranchhand disappeared, along with his truck, leaving the cattle and dog behind. Gastner, an old sheriff who knows people, doesn’t believe the young man would have left his dog behind, and he travels those familiar county roads, looking for evidence.

Red, Green, or Murder is the sixteenth book in Havill’s Posadas County series. Havill does so many things well in his novels. His descriptions of the border county are vivid, showing the dry, empty land – “the broad sweep of the dry short bunch-grass prairie, rugged mesas with rims crumpling, arroyos so deep you could effortlessly hide a herd of cattle or a tractor trailer.” Havill understands the issues and politics of a border county, and those issues are vital to the storylines. The characters in this series, particularly Bill Gastner and Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman, come alive, as police officers, and, as people. They are involved with the community, and their knowledge of the people assists in their cases. These are solid police procedurals, involving multiple investigations at the same time. Best of all, Havill’s Posados County mysteries, including this one, are riveting, well-developed stories.

Rating: 5

Courtesy Mystery News, Vol. 27/Issue 5, Oct/Nov 2009.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received Red, Green, or Murder from Mystery News so that I could review it for publication.

Check out the other blogs participating in DETECTIVES AROUND THE WORLD. Jen has links to all of them, along with information about the scavenger hunt, here.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

16 books in the series! Wow.

The setting/description in these books sounds really vivid...perfect for Detectives Around the World! Thanks.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...


For me, it was so nice to find an entirely new series with so many books. There are vivid descriptions in these books, and that's why I immediately thought of them when Jen asked about DATW.

Jen Forbus said...

Ha! I thought the exact same thing. This series is very set in its geographic location. It wouldn't make the same sense if it were set up here in NE Ohio! ;-)

That's a huge part of the fun of reading for me...traveling to new lands, experiencing places I probably wouldn't experience otherwise.

Thank Lesa for bringing New Mexico into the mix for us. This was such a great choice, and I'm so delighted you could participate! You've added so much to the project.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Jen. It's been fun to include New Mexico. Tomorrow - Mexican cooking, since it's so much a part of Havill's latest book in the series!

Beth F said...

Oh gosh, I have lots of hours of reading ahead of me -- Mexican cooking -- oh boy! I used to live in Arizona and I truly miss the food.

Lesa said...

You're going to love the cookbook tomorrow, Beth. The author grew up on Mexican food in Arizona, too.