A rash of low-octane mysteries for undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman and her sorely tried colleagues in the Posadas County Sheriff’s Department.
Since their school days, Deputy Thomas Pasquale has had a thing for Stacie Willis Stewart, who's since married bank president Todd Stewart. So he takes special notice when she locks her Volvo and walks into The Spree one sunny morning, favoring him with a flirtatious wave. Soon distracted by a brand-new car whose battered Illinois license plate doesn’t seem to fit its showroom looks, Pasquale fails to notice that Stacie’s locked her dog and her infant daughter inside the car and vanished. A retired schoolteacher alerts the EMTs, and Ginger Stewart and the pooch are rescued before they’re baked through. But what’s become of Stacie? It takes a far more grisly discovery—unstoppable women’s volleyball coach Clint Scott, shot four times in the high school locker room—to make Posadas County law enforcement come up with a theory about her disappearance. All this may sound like the material for a meaty stew, but Havill (Blood Sweep, 2015, etc.), after setting the table with every complication from talented teen mural painter Efrin Garcia’s vehicular run-in with a deer and a tree to the unauthorized return of Estelle’s 15-year-old pianist son, Francisco, from a Missouri conservatory for his grandmother’s 100th birthday, connects the dots conscientiously without ever developing either a compelling mystery or a satisfying solution.
Fans will shrug and enjoy the family-reunion vibe, which seems increasingly dominant in this long-running series despite all those promises of dark doings.