Movie producer/Robert B. Parker ghostwriter Brandman, lately spotted mostly in Paradise, Massachusetts, moves his base of operations to Freedom, California, in this series kickoff.
Some people might think Rosalita Gonzalez has a sweet gig as the nanny to Barry Long III, the 5-year-old son of the Rev. Barry Long Jr., The People’s Pastor. But Ms. Gonzalez makes it clear to Burton Steele Jr., Chief Deputy Sheriff of San Remo County, that she’s not going back to the Long compound. Mary Catharine Morecombe Long, the pastor’s wife, has been missing for a week, and the nanny is sure something very fishy is going on. When Buddy, who got his nickname to distinguish him from Burton Steele Sr., the sheriff who recruited his son from the LAPD when the old man was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, rides out to the Long place, the chilly, unresponsive reception he gets does nothing to allay his suspicions. Soon enough he’s shopping among local judges for a search warrant he executes while Long and his brother, Hickham, are out. Although the main evidence he finds—three neatly maintained basement cells—isn’t enough to keep DA Michael Lytell or Murray Kornbluth, the Long family’s hydra-headed lawyer, off his back as he pursues the case, Buddy has a priceless advantage over his adversaries: an imperturbable megadose of attitude he clearly picked up from Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone (Robert B. Parker’s Damned If You Do, 2013, etc.). Buddy’s laconic self-confidence powers him past a triple homicide that’s treated so casually two of the victims don’t even have names and into bed with runaway Long sister Maggie de Winter, whose warning that she’s no good barely registers.
As they’re hauled off to jail, the screamingly obvious villains are still asking how likely it is that they really would have acted as they’re charged with doing, and you have to admit that they have a point.