Red, Green, or Murder
A Posadas County Mystery by Steven Havill
Review: Former sheriff Bill Gastner is abruptly pulled back into the business of keeping the peace and solving a murder in Red, Green, or Murder, the 16th mystery in the Posadas County series by Stephen Havill.
It's a sunny, lazy day and Bill, now a New Mexico livestock inspector, is just finishing checking on a small herd of cattle owned by his friend Herb Torrance. Eager to meet another old friend, George Payton, for lunch, he's returning to the ranch when the horse on which Herb's son is riding becomes spooked, throwing the boy and stomping on his leg. Bill calls George to cancel his lunch date as he accompanies the boy to the hospital. Another cowpuncher, Pat, together with his dog, continue to herd the cattle. His day doesn't get any better when Estelle Reyes-Guzman, the current county undersheriff, calls him to tell him George had been found dead in his kitchen, an apparent heart attack. He was having lunch, which was delivered from a local restaurant, his partially eaten meal and a spilled glass of wine found at the scene. Though George wasn't in ill health, he was elderly … and Estelle doesn't want to jump to any conclusions. But Bill's eventful day isn't over yet: the local police find a herd of cattle wandering down the highway, the same herd Pat was in charge of, but now only accompanied only by Pat's dog. Bill knows Pat would never voluntarily leave without his dog, so where is he? Bill must use all his lawman's instinct and intuition to get to the bottom of these mysteries.
Red, Green, or Murder is a great mystery, the title referring to a common question asked by the locals, whether one prefers red or green chilies with one's meal (and also a key plot point). The contrast between the analytical skills of Bill and Estelle is striking, the two being a most interesting, even unlikely, pair of investigators. The puzzle surrounding George's death is stirring, and the search for, and the resolution of, the missing cowpuncher is heartrending. These two storylines, separate yet not, make for a remarkable mystery.
An author's note that accompanies the book states that though Red, Green, or Murder is the most recent title in the series, the events take place immediately after those in Bag Limit and before those in Scavengers, respectively the 10th and 11th books.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Red, Green, or Murder.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Red, Green, or Murder for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Red, Green, or Murder: New Mexico
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Red, Green, or Murder by Steven Havill — A Posadas County Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $24.95