Double Prey - Steven F. Havill Advance reader copy

There is something in us that seeks the mutual support and comfort of the small town where everyone knows everyone else, ​​​​​​people help each other, and life is relatively simple in appearance. This is not to say that bad things don't happen, but it's that quality, I think, that makes Steven Havill's Posadas County police procedurals so appealing. You really like the characters, you want to get to know them, and you wish they would pop over for dinner some time.  I've read about six of his books.

While it's not necessary to read his stories in order, doing so does provide some context for the characters. His first series followed undersheriff Bill Gastner, as likable and competent a law enforcement officer one could ask for. Estelle Reyes-Guzman, now the undersheriff with Robert Torrez the sheriff, in Double Prey, is faced with multiple difficulties: a neighbor's boy, Butch,  and her son, Francis, were teasing a large rattlesnake with a Weed Whacker.  The string chopped up the snake's head, throwing a fang and venom into the kid's eye. That required a medevac trip to Albuquerque while the next day, Butch's brother is found in an arroyo, underneath his ATV having flown off the edge. Everything looks like a routine accident.  But what was the old dust-encrusted handgun doing in the ATV's storage box?  And just a day after having found the skeleton of a jaguar, a cat not seen in the area for years.

Havill writes well, creates intriguing plots, and has created a family of characters we really care about. I plan to read many more of his books.