All six of these stories, five featuring California ex-sheriff Hack Bohannon (Bohannon’s Book, 1988, etc.), are reprinted from mystery magazines. Aided by a large cast of regulars, from gal pal T. Hodges—Bohannon’s wife Linda has died—to crusty buddy George Stubbs, the former lawman uses his easy manner and local connections to probe cases that intrigue him. In “Widdershins,” the latest and best of the stories, clues in the disappearance of a high-school girl point, implausibly, to witchcraft. In “Widower’s Walk,” antisocial Vietnam vet Steve Belcher is railroaded into an arrest for murder on a wave of prejudice and very little evidence. “Confessional” involves a priest who alone knows the secret behind the murder of an unhappy wife. In “Survival,” Bohannon and Stubbs run afoul of a group of survivalists while transporting the corpse of a friend down the coast for burial. “Home Is the Place” presents a murder-or-suicide puzzle whose victim is a young man who’s come home to die of AIDS. In “Storm Damage,” which doesn’t feature Bohannon, young Jason Moore faces ethical and whodunit questions when he finds the body of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. This opening tale feels even more out of place because Jason’s first-person narrative resembles the voice in the Bohannon stories.
Hansen’s engagingly relaxed style works against mystery and suspense. As each of the Bohannon yarns unfolds, the case at hand gets upstaged by the sleuth and his cronies. Since their juxtaposition highlights similarities of structure, length, pace, and flow, fans are advised to take this sextet slowly.