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Cactus Heart

A David Mapstone Mystery by Jon Talton

Cactus Heart by Jon Talton

Review: Jon Talton returns to the last months of 1999 as the setting for the fifth mystery in the David Mapstone series, Cactus Heart.

Mapstone has an interesting profession: a historian, working on a commission basis, for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. He also has the rank of Deputy Sheriff with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with the title. When the bodies of two children are discovered sealed behind the wall of an abandoned warehouse in downtown Phoenix, Mapstone is drawn into a crime from 1941 in which the twin grandsons of a prominent Arizona businessman were kidnapped, their bodies never found until now. Though the kidnapper had been caught, tried, and executed, Mapstone orders some tests on the skeletal remains, the results of which lead him to believe the case is far from closed.

Cold case crimes are fascinating in many ways, and the one presented in Cactus Heart is at times riveting. Mapstone uses modern technology, from computerized databases to DNA testing, and combines it with handwritten police and medical records from decades earlier to piece together how those two boys came to be entombed in the warehouse. He also deftly negotiates overlapping jurisdictions in investigating the crime and skillfully handles the politically sensitive task of taking on a still powerful Arizona family.

Talton manages to integrate Mapstone's personal life, his strengths and weaknesses, his doubts and fears, into Cactus Heart without detracting from the overall story. (The title actually refers to Mapstone himself, not some aspect of the crime.) This not only creates a strong, complex protagonist that contrasts well with other characters but also enhances key elements of the plot.

The plot itself gets a little convoluted on occasion and there are a few too many convenient coincidences that allow Mapstone to wrap things up neatly in the end, but these minor faults don't lessen the appeal of this very good mystery.

Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Cactus Heart for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author

Mystery Book Review: The Pain Nurse by Jon TaltonThe Pain Nurse
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), April 2009
ISBN-13: 9781590586242; ISBN-10: 1590586247

Location(s) referenced in Cactus Heart: Phoenix, Arizona

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Cactus Heart by Jon Talton

Cactus Heart by A David Mapstone Mystery

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-352-4
Publication Date:
List Price: $24.95

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