Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Red, Green, or Murder by Steven Havill. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-665-4 (1590586654)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-665-5 (9781590586655)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $24.95
Review: Former sheriff Bill Gastner is abruptly pulled back into the business of keeping the peace and solving a murder in Red, Green, or Murder, the 16th mystery in the Posadas County series by Stephen Havill.
It's a sunny, lazy day and Bill, now a New Mexico livestock inspector, is just finishing checking on a small herd of cattle owned by his friend Herb Torrance. Eager to meet another old friend, George Payton, for lunch, he's returning to the ranch when the horse on which Herb's son is riding becomes spooked, throwing the boy and stomping on his leg. Bill calls George to cancel his lunch date as he accompanies the boy to the hospital. Another cowpuncher, Pat, together with his dog, continue to herd the cattle. His day doesn't get any better when Estelle Reyes-Guzman, the current county undersheriff, calls him to tell him George had been found dead in his kitchen, an apparent heart attack. He was having lunch, which was delivered from a local restaurant, his partially eaten meal and a spilled glass of wine found at the scene. Though George wasn't in ill health, he was elderly ... and Estelle doesn't want to jump to any conclusions. But Bill's eventful day isn't over yet: the local police find a herd of cattle wandering down the highway, the same herd Pat was in charge of, but now only accompanied only by Pat's dog. Bill knows Pat would never voluntarily leave without his dog, so where is he? Bill must use all his lawman's instinct and intuition to get to the bottom of these mysteries.
Red, Green, or Murder is a great mystery, the title referring to a common question asked by the locals, whether one prefers red or green chilies with one's meal (and also a key plot point). The contrast between the analytical skills of Bill and Estelle is striking, the two being a most interesting, even unlikely, pair of investigators. The puzzle surrounding George's death is stirring, and the search for, and the resolution of, the missing cowpuncher is heartrending. These two storylines, separate yet not, make for a remarkable mystery.
An author's note that accompanies the book states that though Red, Green, or Murder is the most recent title in the series, the events take place immediately after those in Bag Limit and before those in Scavengers, respectively the 10th and 11th books.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Red, Green, or Murder and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
If you are interested in purchasing Red, Green, or Murder from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.
Synopsis (from the publisher): Former Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner, now a New Mexico Livestock Inspector, is enjoying a day of Herb Torrance's ranch when a horse spooks, and Bill finds himself ferrying a broken cowpuncher in the back of his SUV, headed out to meet an ambulance.
Moments later, Bill's day goes from bad to worse as he is summoned by undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman to an investigation of an unattended death.
Before any questions can be answered, the small herd of cattle Bill had just counted is found wandering down a county highway. But there's no sign of cowpuncher Pat Gabaldon or his boss' $40,000 truck and livestock trailer. Forced into two tangled investigations, Bill faces one of the most complex cases in his 35-year career.
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