Today, a guest post from Condorena – a Delaware physician, born in Chile, who loves mystery stories set in exotic locations, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Sheriff Bill Gastner is a calm reasoning man in a knee jerk reaction world. He has been a law enforcement officer in his Posadas, New Mexico territory for a long time and he knows it well and he also understands the human weaknesses of the people that live and die in his community.
He is called to the scene of a backhoe accident in the yard of a man who is known to have frequent altercations with a shrew of a wife. A woman that no one likes including most of her children who have flown the coop as soon as their wings could spread. There is something, just a little something off about the scene of the accident and Bill as well as his deputies slowly put together a picture of a tricky homicide rather than an accident.
Adding to this problem Gastner has been notified by a few councilmen that they have received letters anonymously charging one of his best young up and coming deputies of receiving kickbacks from Mexican nationals at traffic stops. Again, Gastner does not rush to judgment. He knows his deputies and he considers the problems from all the aspects, from the recipients of the letters, the timing of the letters to the actual reports of the letters and it doesn’t stay a puzzle for very long.
Although Bill Gastner’s reflexes are not what they were, he is nearing retirement; he uses his training, his cunning and most of all his reason. Gastner’s department has excellent scene of the crime procedures although there is no CSIing going on. Havill evokes small town America under going changes as all America is. Gastner helps keep a balance.
There was one instance of an elderly lonely lady who felt that her rights were overlooked and in the ensuing situation pulled a gun on Gastner. After the situation was defused and Bill pulled away in his car he waved a hand and she didn’t acknowledge.
“But that was OK. I didn’t have the time just then for tea and crumpets, or what ever she might serve. Even if she had showed signs of wanting to continue her conversation with me. Maybe a little conversation was just what she needed. Maybe Carla Champlin had started her long slide downhill toward the loonybin and this was the one day that fate had given her to teeter on the edge. She could be hauled back to the world of reasonable or pushed over. But I didn’t feel I had time to stand on the edge with here just then. She was going to have to depend on her own sense of balance.”
There is a pattern in the letters, the backhoe death and it emerges because the characters in the stories act true to themselves and they reveal eventually the truth.
Oh, if life could imitate art.