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Red, Green or Murder Review

Former Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner has retired from the county and is now a New Mexico Livestock Inspector. While he is helping count cattle at a local ranch, the horse ridden by the owner’s son rears when the wind picks up stirring debris that spooks the horse. The cowboy’s knee is crushed and his leg twisted at an odd angle. Gastner volunteers to load him into the back of Gastner’s SUV and take him out to meet the ambulance on the main road.

After he meets the ambulance, and young Torrance was transferred and on his way to the hospital, Gastner receives a call about an unattended death. Come to find out, the dead man was George Payton, an old friend of Gastner’s. The two were supposed to have lunch together, but Payton got tired of waiting for Gastner and started eating. He died of an apparent heart attack shortly after taking just a couple of bites of his lunch.

When Sheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman begins her investigation, she believes there is something more to the mysterious death than just a heart attack.

In the meantime, Gastner receives a call about a small herd of cattle wandering along the roadway, unsupervised. Gastner soon discovered the cattle belonged to Torrance, the very cattle they were counting earlier. Also, their cowpuncher, Pat Gabaldon, was missing along with the truck and livestock trailer that belonged to the Torrance ranch.

Although Gastner thought the young man could have gone on to other pursuits unaware the cattle had gotten loose, he knew Pat would not have left the dog behind.

Red, Green or Murder is one of the books in the Posadas County Mysteries series written by Steven F. Havill. He is the author of the long running series that started with Bill Gastner as undersheriff, then sheriff. Now he is retired and Estelle Reyes-Guzman is sheriff of the southern New Mexico County.

It is obvious Gastner and Reyes-Guzman have a comfortable relationship as they work together to solve the various cases they find themselves involved in. The author keeps this series fresh with his well-written and interesting stories and the occasional change in employment of the main characters.

Reading this series is like checking in with old friends to find out what’s going on in the neighborhood. The stories are interesting and engaging, and mystery lovers seem to enjoy trying to solve the case before the reveal.

I’ve read several of the books in this series and although they are centered in southwest New Mexico, they sometimes stray away from the area bringing added interest. The author has a good sense of place and the vivid descriptions make it easy to feel like you are part of the landscape.

The characters are fleshed out and given personalities, and that helps with the continuity and reality of the story. This long running series provides solid entertainment every step of the way.

This review is a result of my purchase of Red, Green or Murder. If you are interested in any of the books in the Posadas County Mysteries, they are available at Amazon.com.

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