In unassuming Posadas County, New Mexico, trouble once more starts small and turns murderous.
Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman (A Discount for Death, 2003, etc.) visits the local middle school because a couple of female teenagers have been feuding over a boy. “No big deal,” says one of them, though that sharpened hatpin sewed into her jeans leg is a bit disconcerting. Still, after a brisk talking-to, a brief suspension, and the threat of more draconian measures if necessary, Estelle regards the case as closed—until later that day when Carmen Acostas, one of the feuding teenagers, is discovered brutally beaten and stabbed with a sharpened hatpin. Her assailant could hardly have been her teenaged rival; no skinny 14-year-old could have inflicted such damage. Soon enough, Estelle has an even more worrisome complication on her hands. Next door to the Acostas family lives County Manager Kevin Zeigler, who seems to have vanished. How is his disappearance related to Carmen’s near-fatal beating? Bright and enterprising as she is, Estelle has no immediate answers. What she does have is the conviction that the county’s hard-pressed cops will soon be putting in hours of unreimbursed overtime.
Literate, lively, and sharply observed as ever. Mystery fans who haven’t yet made the trip to Posadas County, consider yourselves deprived.