A second case for Arn Anderson, who retired from Denver Homicide to move back to Cheyenne, finds him settled in more deeply and ready to look just as deeply into the relatively shallow locals’ backgrounds when they start getting murdered.
Whoever killed secretary/receptionist Jillie Reilly was just minding his own business, alternately choking her and letting her catch her breath, until getting interrupted by the Midnight Sheepherder, a serial rustler who’d chosen that night to target “Wooly” Hank Doss’ place at the moment it was becoming the scene of a much more violent crime. Did the Sheepherder get a good enough look at the killer for a police identification? DeAngelo Demos, the television station owner who gave Arn his first hometown case (Hunting the Five Point Killer, 2017), is convinced that Sgt. Mike Slade, preoccupied with his impending political challenge to Sheriff Grimes, is incapable of finding out and wants Arn and TV news reporter Ana Maria Villarreal to take this one on as well. The obvious suspect is Eddie Glass, Jillie’s sometime lover, but his wife, Karen, can’t be ruled out either. Nor can psychiatrist Dr. Maury Oakert, who admits that his practice over the years may have included more promising suspects but asserts that the confidentiality between doctor and patient prevents him from saying anything more. When he’s not wondering just how much guiltier Eddie Glass could look, Arn spends most of his time tracking down the homeliest sorts of forensic evidence—the Midnight Sheepherder’s car, the tires that left distinctive tracks at the scene, signs of defensive wounds on any of the suspects—and eventually he gets lucky, though not in time to save several other victims.
Strictly routine, with perfunctory characters, little mystery or suspense—despite many superfluous chapters from the killer’s point of view—and a particularly underwhelming windup.