Every time I read one of Steven F. Havill's Posadas County mysteries, I lament the fact that not enough people know about these marvelous police procedurals. If you like Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books, you really should try this series set in a small New Mexico border county. It's a series that's about the people who live there, the Sheriff's Department that protects them, and, in many cases, the relationship with the country just across the border. These are stories about contemporary crimes, and intelligent police. And, Blood Sweep, the twentieth in this series, is as strong as all the previous books.
When Sheriff Robert Torrez is hunting on property belonging to Miles Waddell, one of the county's major landowners and developers, someone shoots at him. And, it leaves him wondering, because someone with that kind of aim probably could have shot to kill. It's only the beginning of the Posadas County problems. Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman has a full schedule, but she swings around to the former sheriff's house, only to find seventy-seven-year-old Bill Gastner in trouble in his garage. An ambulance for her former boss is her first thought, but it delays her meeting with the bank president. As she waits for her doctor husband to handle Bill's arrangements, she learns her aged mother wants to withdraw eight thousand dollars from the bank. It's that conversation that leads to a story about Guzman's son, a music prodigy, in trouble in Mexico. It would seem to be a scam, if it wasn't wrapped up in the music conservatory's trip to Mexico, and a story about an uncle Estelle never knew she had.
Torrez' investigation of his own shooting leads to the body of a hired gun. And, then the connections between the dead man leads to a man interested in capitalizing on Waddell's plans to develop his mesa property into a multi-million dollar theme park. So, while Torrez wrestles with developers and killers, Guzmann is caught up in worries about her son in Mexico and stories of family. And, the man they've all grown to look to for advice is lying in a hospital bed.
Blood Sweep, like all of Havill's Posadas County mysteries, is about so much more than the police and crime. Havill's characters are three-dimensional people with families and flaws. In fact, some of the people are larger than life. Gastner and Torrez dominate any stage, as does their Mexican counterpart, Colonel Tomas Naranjo. The story is complex, well-written, and compelling. And, Havill's descriptions of New Mexico and Mexico are vivid, bringing the dusty, hot country to life.
Do yourself a favor. Go back and find a copy of the first book, Heartshot. In the course of the series, the characters age, retire, and their lives change. If you love this series as much as I do, you'll have nineteen more enjoyable mysteries ahead of you. Or, just pick up Blood Sweep. You'll want to go back and read the earlier books to get to know these people.
Blood Sweep by Steven Havill. Poisoned Pen Press. 2015. ISBN 9781464203879 (hardcover), 298p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested a copy of the book in order to read and review it.