Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Heartshot: Steven F. Havill

Heartshot is the first book in a  24-book series by Steven F. Havill. The series is set in a fictional county in New Mexico. Although this book was published in 1991, the series was entirely new to me, and I was so pleased with my reading experience I wanted to share it.

Summary from my trade paperback edition published by Poisoned Pen Press:
Posadas County, New Mexico has very few mean streets and no city-slick cop shop. But it has an earnest, elected Sheriff and his aging Undersheriff, William C. Gastner. Pushing sixty, widower Bill has no other life than in law enforcement–and doesn't want one, even if he's being nudged gently toward retirement. Then a car full of teens, running from a stop by Deputy Torrez, goes air­borne into a rocky outcrop, killing all five kids and revealing a package of cocaine under the seat. Has someone brought big-time crime to the county? Bill is now dealing with grieving par­ents–one of whom starts packing a gun...
What did I like so much about this book? I think the most important thing for me was the main character, Undersheriff Bill Gastner. Overweight and unhealthy, he is dedicated to his job but works too hard. With a new Sheriff taking over, Gastner worries about being pushed out of his job. And he is cranky and curmudgeonly. The story is told from Gastner's point of view, in first person, and that approach works very well in this case.

Another great character is Detective Estelle Reyes, younger, but just as intelligent and determined as Gastner. I like the way the relationships develop between the inexperienced Sheriff, Undersheriff Gastner and Detective Reyes.

The story is compelling. The deaths of five teenagers is devastating to the community, and the investigation leads to further deaths. My interest never lagged. Towards the end the story becomes somewhat thrillerish, but still convincing. I was certainly caught up in the story and holding my breath until the end.

I loved this book. I already have the 2nd book in the series, Bitter Recoil, and I will be reading it soon. The series is in print, having been reissued by Poisoned Pen Press. I was introduced to this series by Richard Robinson at Tip the Wink, and I am very grateful he told me about it.



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Publisher:  Poisoned Pen Press, 2007. (orig. publ. 1991)
Length:  217 pages
Format:  Trade Paperback
Series:   Posadas County Mysteries
Setting:  New Mexico
Genre:   Mystery, Police Procedural

14 comments:

  1. Well, I am very grateful to you for introducing me to this series!
    I wonder if it is on audio...I need some audio books in December (cataract surgery)...and I will be dependent on my ears instead of my eyes for a few weeks!

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    1. As Marmee says below, Nancy, this book does appear to be available as an audiobook so I hope you decide to try it. I hope the cataract surgery goes well.

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  2. Hi! One of my very favourite series and yes it is available on audio. Love the readings by Rusty Nelson.

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    1. Thanks for commenting on that, Marmee. I am glad to hear more good things about this series.

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  3. This sounds like a good series on several levels, Tracy. The setting appeals to me very much. So does the interplay among characters. I can see how you enjoyed it so much. Oh, and I like the fact that the protagonist is a real human being (with positive and negative traits) just as we all are.

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    1. Exactly, Margot. I like the fact that the main character seems real and not idealized. The setting is good too.

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  4. Thanks for the mention there, Tracy. I just love this series, it and the Longmire books are my two favorites (well, yes, and the Three Pines books by Louise Penny). I have read thru number thirteen and still love the books, which I am mostly reading as ebooks. These books are terrific!

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    1. I am very glad you pointed this book out to me, Rick. I am slowly continuing on the Louise Penny series too, but I haven't gotten back to the Longmire series for a while.

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy! This series has been on my list to try for a really long time. I have more than one book-ish friend that have recommended it to me. Plus, the whole Poisoned Pen connection is a good thing in my book. I have several series that I love published by PP. One day before long I'll get to this one and hopefully the ones after it. As far as I know from others, the series stays strong and is really good. Enjoy!

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    1. And I am glad to hear more praise about the series, Kay. I was noticing that Poisoned Pen Press publishes several series that I like (or at least have read one book in and want to continue on). And they have published the British Library Crime Classics series over here. We have several of those that we haven't read yet. The covers are lovely.

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  6. Sounds really appealing Tracy. I wish it wasn't so long, maybe I could dip in and out with just the first couple.

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    1. I know what you mean about long series, Col, I try to avoid getting started on those also. I think there is a point where Estelle Reyes becomes the more prominent character, and probably dipping in and out would be fine anyway. I will let you know as I go along.

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  7. Thanks to you and Rick, Tracy, for introducing me to the next new series I shall pursue. The character sounds a tad like Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes, and thanks to Tony Hillerman I'm partial to that part of the country.

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    1. I did think about the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series also when I was reading this book, Matt. It is similar in many ways but the two characters are different enough to keep me reading both series. (Plus I want to try Bill Crider's other series.)

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