A Latina cop who can’t stay on the right side of the law does her best to work with some good ol’ boys investigating a serial killer who’s targeting hunters in Oregon.
In spite of her recent promotion, everything seems to be going to hell for Deputy Delia Chavez. She’s still saddled with Deputy Craig Castner, a colleague dumb as a box of rocks who can’t stop acting like he’s her boss. And the stress of his reelection bid has made her real boss, Sheriff Gus Grice, even more of an ass than usual. If that’s not enough, the combination of her short-fuse temper and her ongoing interest in asserting herself with the criminal element has led to several administrative investigations into her own work, although Delia remains convinced that whatever perps she shot at deserved it. Luckily, her friend and mentor Detective Harvey Schenkel is willing to go to bat for her when need be, which is pretty often. But when Harvey is suddenly laid up in the hospital, Delia must fend for herself. After some departmental shuffling makes Delia the lead on incoming cases, she lands a doozy: The bodies of hunters appearing near the Willamette at the beginning of waterfowl hunting season raise fears that there’s a serial killer afoot. Delia does what she can to work the case while continuing to battle her own department, shuttling back and forth between deployment and suspension at Grice’s whims. The proximity of the hunters to the water means that Delia’s stuck using a boat in her search. Although she doesn’t like the water, she thinks she might come to like the boat’s captain, Jerzy Matusik.
James’ generously plotted debut, like his heroine, has a lot going on.