For series fans who didn’t think One Perfect Shot (2012), which showed what happened when Estelle Reyes first joined the Posadas County Sheriff’s Department, was prequel enough, Havill adds this prequel to a prequel that focuses on Deputy Robert Torrez’s first big case way back in 1986.
It’s a horrible case, especially for Bobby Torrez. Two of the three teenagers killed in a one-car accident on the New Mexico interstate are Bobby’s brother and sister, Orlando and Elli. The brand-new driver, their friend Chris Browning, is also killed—a death that knocks his father, ADA Willis Browning, into a fatal aneurysm of his own. Could anything possibly devastate the community more? Yes, it could. The morning after the crash, while Undersheriff Bill Gastner (Come Dark, 2016, etc.) is investigating rancher Herb Torrance’s complaint that somebody shot up one of his cattle tanks, he finds the body of Darlene Spencer, the friend of Elli’s and girlfriend of Chris’ who was supposed to accompany the others on a trip to a 4-H event in Lordsburg, in Bender’s Canyon, very recently dead of a head wound apparently received the night before. Why did her friends high-tail it away so fast without taking her with them? Why didn’t they go for help? And what to make of the ADA’s gun that’s gone missing from the car? Some of the connections between the cattle tank shooting, the death of Darlene, and the fatal accident are pretty obvious, but that’s not enough for Gastner, who wants to dot every I and cross every T. Fortunately, Bobby Torrez, rising above unimaginable grief, brings him the evidence he needs.
Unfortunately, neither the two lawmen working together nor the rest of the personnel in the Posadas County Sheriff’s Department succeed in making this case as interesting as it is sad.