Western specialist Fackler (Billy the Kid: The Legend of El Chivato, 1995, etc.) spins real-life crime into taut suspense fiction.
Stung by Amy Sterling’s rejection of his high-school advances, spoiled rich kid Zeb Mulroney plots a wildly disproportionate revenge. He persuades his older trailer-trash cousin Buck Powell to pose as a police officer so that he can remove Amy’s boyfriend Nathan Wheeler from Berrendo (NM) High and be driven into the desert and tortured. Not only does the plan go off with scarcely a hitch, but there’s an added bonus. Zeb’s mother Alicia just happens to be on hand at the school when hapless officials realize they’ve released Nathan to the custody of an imposter. Instead of blowing the whistle on her son, Alicia, who’d been at the point of leaving her husband, sticks around long enough to offer the boy her best efforts at stymieing the law. So effectively do the Mulroneys, soon joined by Zeb’s grandfather and his legal talent, close ranks that there seems no hope of justice—except for Devon Gray, who’s rented a room from Amy’s mother and taken her to bed without telling her about the violence that drove him off the El Paso police department.
Though several characters and motivations fail to ring true, the monstrous Mulroneys—sociopathic son, conniving mother, weakling father, witless cousin, enabling grandpa—are worth the price of admission.