When Missouri Sheriff Hank Worth lets six teenagers in a speeding car off with a warning instead of a ticket, he thinks he’s helping them learn a lesson—until a crash minutes later kills them all.
Worth’s guilt is hardly the only problem he’ll cope with in Booth’s latest installment (Another Man’s Ground, 2017, etc.) set in and near Branson, Missouri. He learns that one of the passengers in the car is using a false identity. Then he learns that another local teen has suffered a near-fatal fall the same night as the crash. When a murder is also committed, Worth and his team will have to work with—or despite—the presence of other law enforcement agencies. While Worth’s chief deputy, Sheila, is more than capable, young deputy Sam is still unsure of himself following an earlier incident. The plot unfolds too slowly, especially at first, when all the victims’ families are visited and multiple names are introduced. When another plot tangent involving an aged country music star is included, the reader can only agree with a deputy, who says “OK, I’m not really sure what’s going on.” But if the author’s plotting is confusing, her ability to sketch believable characters is strong, making us understand people, especially superstrong and cool Sheila. One does wish that Hank would move on a little quicker from his guilt and teary eyes, but it’s an affectionate portrayal nonetheless.
A little too much inner thought and not enough outer action keep this Missouri mystery on a slow ride.