St. Martin's, Jan 2003, 22.95, 224 pp.
When he was twenty-three, David Mapstone was a rookie working in the Maricopa County Sheriff's office while attending college at night. After four years on the force, he accepts a position of assistant professor at a midwestern college but when he fails to attain tenure he returns to Arizona. He accepts a job with the sheriff's office as a Historian, receiving a set fee for each cold case he solved.
Nobody could be happier than David is when his old partner Mike Peralta is elected sheriff of Maricopa County. However, minutes after Peralta is sworn in, someone shoots the new sheriff who is rushed to the hospital where he lays in a coma. David is selected as acting sheriff because he has no interest in the position permanently. His immediate concern is the murder of former sheriff Dick Nixon who many claim was dirty, and an escaped con probably gunning for David and Peralta. When evidence surfaces that officers, including Peralta, were on the take in the 1970's, David, trusting in the honesty of his friend, concludes that somebody is manipulating events. David investigates the situation, trying to flush the killer out but almost winds up another victim.
Jon Talton is a superb storyteller who is a fresh new voice in police procedurals. His hero is likable and realistic, a person not interested in petty politics or getting ahead professionally. He's more involved in the past than the present but in CAMELBACK FALLS he is forced to work on a current crime because of his friendship. Mr. Talton writes with a discerning eye and a subtle sense of irony that readers will appreciate.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner