Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Double Prey by Steven F. Havill

I won't say Steven Havill is an unknown treasure.  He will be one of the guests of honor at Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe in March.  But, his Posadas County mysteries certainly aren't as well known as they should be.  Havill's books have vivid settings, rich in description of the New Mexico desert. The latest one, Double Prey, is another of his gems, an excellent police procedural.

The desert is the kind of stark place in which a young boy can have an accident involving a weed wacker and a rattlesnake.  Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman takes a call about "two hoodlums," her nine-year-old son, and a fourteen-year-old friend, who seemed to have had an accident.  When she gets there, she finds that Butch Romero tried to kill a rattlesnake, ending up with a fang in his eye.  If she and his parents hadn't been so concerned about Butch, someone might have noticed that his older brother, Freddy, never came home that night.  But, the Romeros were at a hospital out of town as their younger son was operated on.  It was only when Estelle went to find Freddy, the hero of a recent story about the discovery of a jaguar's skull, that she discovered he was missing.  When she follows his hunch, and stories of his desert exploration, she finds Freddy's body, where his ATV flipped into an arroyo.  Now, her neighbors, the Romeros, have one dead son, and one with an uncertain prognosis.  

But, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Gusman trained with the best, Sheriff Bill Gastner, now retired, and working as a State Livestock Inspector.  And, she isn't comfortable with the story of Freddy, his discovery of a jaguar skull, and the location of his accident.  With Gastner's assistance, she painstakingly recreates Freddy Romero's last hours, learning that Freddy's death might have been necessary to cover up another crime.

It's always a pleasure to return to Posadas County, where the sheriff's department is professional, and works as a team.  The details of the investigations are always carefully laid out in these well-written police procedurals.  But Steven Havill also creates complex characters, and their lives, and family situations change in the course of the series.  Reyes-Guzman's family life is complicated, and in a state of flux.  You could easily pick up Double Prey and read it as a standalone.  But, why would you want to miss the rich storytelling and development of these characters and Posadas County?  The seventeen books in this series should entice anyone who appreciates outstanding police procedurals, with a setting that brings these mysteries to life.

Double Prey by Steven F. Havill.  Poisoned Pen Press, ©2011. ISBN 9781590587843 (paperback), 250p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I read an advanced copy on my Kindle, requested from the publisher.



13 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love discovering series when there are already lots of books written! 17...wow. This series sounds like a good discovery, especially since I'm such a fan of police procedurals.

Lesa said...

This one is wonderful, Elizabeth. I was lucky enough to be given one of these to review at one time, and I got caught up in the characters and setting. Love these books.

Pamela Keener said...

Goodness Lisa I must stop reading your blog *wink*. This is a new to me author and this book sounds awesome.
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Lesa said...

Sorry about that, Pam! I've heard that from others, too, that they need to stop reading my blog. I love this series. Great characters, wonderful setting. The stories are always crisp and interesting. Start at the beginning, or the earliest one you can find.

Pamela Keener said...

This series sounds like my cup of tea. I looked on Amazon and it looks like Heartshot is the first book in the series. I am going to check out my library's website too but if not I gotta have it LoL
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Pamela Keener said...

I just checked the Library and neither the book or the author is listed in the online catalogue.
Looks like Amazon wins this round LoL
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Sherry said...

I also found this series late, but have really enjoyed catching up! I think I must be at least 2 books behind now. Can't wait to read this one! I think I like the retired sheriff better, but Estelle is also great.

Sherry

Lesa said...

Give it a try, Pam, and let me know what you think. Does your library do Interlibrary Loan? If so, you could borrow the books.

Lesa said...

I love Gastner, as well, Sherry. But, Havill made him middle-aged and too heavy to start with, and then aged the series in real time, so he had to have Estelle. Estelle's life just seems to get more complicated, as so many lives do for working women.

Kris said...

Wow - 17 books in the series?! That's a long series! I don't believe I've heard of this author before, at least I know I haven't read anything by him, I'll have to keep an eye out for his books.

Lesa said...

I don't think Steven Havill is as well-known as he should be, Kris. I think he does excellent police procedurals.

Bob from Oak Park said...

Havill is a true gem. I am still waiting for my local library to offer his latest.....budget woes I would guess.

Lesa said...

Bob,

You're right. He is a true gem. These books deserve a wider readership. I hope your library gets that book soon. I understand budget problems, though.