Every time I read one of Steven F. Havill's Posadas County mysteries, I urge readers to try one. Come Dark may be my favorite in the series, an excellent example of a small-town sheriff's department working together in a community where they know the people and the usual suspects.
NightZone is the name of the astronomy theme park that has been a dream in several of the books. It's not yet open, but it's attracting attention from the media, bringing in workers and gawkers, adding to the economy in Posadas, New Mexico. The other attraction for the local media is the girls' high school volleyball team with their sixty-fifth consecutive win. But, when a railroad car at NightZone is tagged, and the volleyball coach is shot dead at the school, the sheriff's department can only hope the media doesn't catch wind of the latest problems in Posadas.
With a small department, it takes everyone to deal with the unusual events in one week, including the murder. There's the mother who left her child in a locked car in a parking lot, and disappeared. There's the teenage artist in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after hitting a deer and a pole. People in town, from second graders to the volleyball team, are affected by the coach's death. And, everyone from Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman to Sheriff Robert Torrez to the retired sheriff, Bill Gastner, is pulled in to help with the cases. And, they're a little shorthanded with one staff member out, nine months pregnant, and the office manager home with her baby.
The murder of the coach is a complicated, intriguing case. But, much of the pleasure in this book, and Havill's other mysteries, comes from watching the careful, step-by-step investigation of the case, with every member of the department filling their role. Over the course of the series, Gastner, and then Reyes-Guzman have been featured, but the stories wouldn't be as interesting if we didn't see the changes in the department as it truly became a diverse department reflecting the population in Posadas. And, there's the added pleasure of watching Reyes-Guzman's family grow and change.
Bill Gastner sums up this book, and so many police procedurals. "People make mistakes, you know. It all starts with some little thing, something that by itself seems of little consequence. And then, the big slide down that long, slippery slope. Sometimes we catch 'em before they hit bottom, and sometimes we don't."
If you like police procedurals, you need to read Steven F. Havill. And, Come Dark may be my favorite.
Come Dark by Steven F. Havill. Poisoned Pen Press. 2016. ISBN 9781464205255 (hardcover), 298p.
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