Truth be told, I have been a big fan of this series for a long time. Author Jon Talton consistently turns out novels that are complex and ones that quickly engage the reader. This recent release does it again on every level.

Cactus Heart

By Jon Talton

Poisoned Pen Press

May 2007

ISBN: 1-59058-352-3


As this fifth novel of the very good David Mapstone series opens, it is 1999 and the focus of just about everyone is the Y2K bug.  For David, newly returned to the Sheriff’s Department his focus is on getting over his divorce and making peace with his return to Phoenix which is no longer the city of his childhood. On a rare night out with his new girlfriend Deputy Lindsey, his old partner Paltra (now county Chief Deputy) and his wife Sharon they have enjoyed the hockey game at the America West Arena and are relaxed. That changes within a couple of blocks as they leave the arena when they witness a violent car jacking. While Sharon and Lindsey tend to the victims and call for backup, Petra and Mapstone chase the thugs down city streets and into abandoned buildings. Eventually there is a fight between Mapstone and one of the thugs.

When the dust clears, Mapstone has unwittingly stumbled into another cold case.  He finds the skeletal remains of two small children. From other evidence it appears that the remains are of two children that were kidnapped back during the depression. While the children were never found after the ransom was paid the kidnappers was. He was quickly executed. That might have been the end of things if members of the current family didn’t start getting killed.

While fifth in the series this is a “prequel” in that it explains the back story of how Mapstone came back to Phoenix. Those early days of the relationship with Lindsey are explained as well as other events that before now have been hinted at. The result is another good read in the series and one that will appeal to both new readers and old alike. If you are new to the series, then start with this one and then go back to the earlier books. If not, this one is still very much worth reading.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007-2008

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