A Davide Mapstone Mystery #4
Poisoned Pen Press, September 2006
A former student visits David Mapstone’s office at the Phoenix Police Department, where he is a special sheriff’s appointee deputy who looks into cold cases. And enjoys some success, I might add. He doesn’t remember the woman from his teaching days, but the case she presents sounds interesting. She has received a letter containing details of a forty-year-old murder. When he investigates the remote section of dry Arizona desert mentioned in the letter, Mapstone is set upon and beaten by thugs.
Meanwhile, Mapstone’s wife has just gotten in touch with her half-sister, Robin. As they try to overcome previous conflicts, a neighbor is found murdered, with an ice-pick in his brain. Beset by curious details, Mapstone, aided in part by his wife, follows the old adage “follow the money,” which leads them on a trail of deception and murder that will finally bring all the various characters together. But first, just to add to the mayhem, throw in a few more murders and Robin’s attempted seduction of Mapstone.
The story is set in Phoenix, in the days when the city contained maybe fifty thousand souls. Water was rare and precious even then as the suburbs began their awkward sprawl. This is a fascinating look at what we now know became uncontrolled growth.
The writing is good, the premise is good. One or two things still puzzle me as to why they were included. And although the book was published in 2006, with the ongoing problems of a big sprawling city like Phoenix, it all seems fresh.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel