In the second book in the David Mapstone series by Jon Talton, David and his friend, mentor, boss, Mike Peralta are talking at a reception in Mike’s honor. He has just been sworn in as sheriff of Maricopa County and he is letting David in on some of his plans now that he is in charge. “But we need to make some changes in the department,” he said. “People may not like it. And I am serious when I say I expect you to step up when asked….Come by my office tomorrow. I really do need to talk to you about something.” Seconds later, Peralta and David are on the floor. The sheriff has been shot.
David and Peralta had been partners 20 years before when David was a twenty-something deputy and the slightly older Peralta had been a sergeant. David was at loose ends and joined the sheriff’s department because he really couldn’t think of anything else to do. Then he decided what else he wanted to do. Earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D in history, David had taught at a university and had written a book. But the study and the teaching of history had moved in a direction Mapstone couldn’t make himself go so he returned to Phoenix and moved back into his grandparents’ house, the house in which he had been raised.
Peralta had made David a job offer: he would be a member of the department who would focus on solving cold cases. It was a perfect job for David but he soon realized that Peralta wouldn’t waste David’s talents on cold cases when there were so many hot cases that needed attention.
Now Peralta is in a coma and David learns that the deputy chiefs of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had chosen him as acting sheriff because he was the only one every one else was speaking to. Each was determined to be the new chief deputy sheriff or, if the worst happened, have the inside track to become the new sheriff.
When David goes into Peralta’s office he sees his name on the desk calendar. Next to it is written, “Camelback Falls”. The only person David believes he can trust is Deputy Lindsey Adams, the woman he plans to marry. Lindsey is the go to person for information on the internet. She can find anyone with only the smallest bit of information but she can’t find anything on Camelback Falls.
Then, David is pulled into the past. Twenty years ago, two deputies had been killed when they came upon a drug transaction. Peralta and David had been the first two deputies on the scene. The two men loading the cocaine into the trunk blew out the front window of the cruiser. Peralta and David shot back and then there were four dead men in the alley. There were two teenagers in the backseat of the car. Marybeth Watson and Leo O’Keefe are arrested, both claiming they had no idea that they were going to be involved in drug activity. Marybeth was rich, Leo was not. Marybeth got probation and was sent back to her home in Oklahoma. Leo went to jail. He was sentenced to a year but many more years were added when he killed another prisoner.
David learns quickly that Leo O’Keefe has just escaped from jail. He becomes the prime suspect in Peralta’s shooting. The sheriff’s department finds themselves enmeshed in another killiing that ties to the department. Dean Nixon, a former deputy, is found dead, killed by the same gun used in the attack on Peralta. As David and Lindsey investigate, they learn about a group of cops who called themselves the River Hogs. There is a log book that lists the badge numbers of deputies who had taken bribes twenty years ago. Peralta’s number is on the list.
Jon Talton writes very readable, logical, and interesting police procedurals. The books have a bonus – Talton includes information about the history of Phoenix.