Dunne, Nov 2004, 23.95, 260 pp.
In Posadas County, New Mexico following a volleyball game, middle school students Carmen Acosta and Deena Hurtado got into a fight over Paul Otero. Both fourteen year old girls were suspended. A few days later, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman lectures honor student Deena, but also confiscates a potential weapon, a sharpened six inch hat pin. Estelle reads Deena the riot act. Not long after that, Carmen is beaten unconscious with a stab wound to the middle ear that came from a honed hat pin. Estelle has doubts that a skinny young teen could have inflicted the brutal beating.
While Carmen is in the hospital, her neighbor county manager Kevin Ziegler vanishes. Estelle notices discrepancies between the image Kevin portrayed to his constituency as effective and efficient on the job and health living off the job; yet she finds evidence that he probably smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol or someone with him did. As Estelle continues to search for the missing administrator she wonders if the vicious teen thrashing is linked to Kevin's disappearance, but how seems elusive.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner