Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Fourth Time Is Murder-Steven F. Havill

The Fourth Time Is Murder
Steven F. Havill
Dunne, Nov 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0312380631

New Mexico state worker Connie Ulibarri stopped her vehicle on the Regas Pass in the san Cristobel Mountains between old Mexico and Posadas County when she saw the dead deer had a Fish and Game tag. As she went to retrieve the tag, she noticed the truck in the ditch below. With the help of a trucker who stopped to assist her, she climbs down to find the driver dead.

Posadas County Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman leads the investigation that is confusing as the victim died from drowning with a footprint on his hand; apparently someone was at the accident scene and tossed alcohol into the late driver when he was barely alive; ergo cause of death drowning though the John Doe would have died from his injuries soon. As Estelle and her team make inquiries, the clues lead to a Canadian sweepstake that involves long time friends. Other incidents like the accidental death of an illegal and the accidental discharge of a rookie’s gun keep Estelle, the squad and their boss County Sheriff Robert Torrez overworked.

The latest Posadas County police procedural is a fabulous tale that contains one major investigation, a minor case, the discharge incident and a dedicated Women’s World magazine reporter interviewing the staff and accompanying Estelle on the job. The prime case is clever and eye opening on scams while Gastner makes several mentoring appearances to add to the overall fun of a well written cop investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner