Well known for his excellent River City Series of police procedurals set in the Seattle area, author Frank Zafiro moves the action to Texas In The Shadow Of El Paso. Published in 2012 the book contains two short stories set in the fictional Texas city named “La Sombra” located just outside El Paso. As many folks in the border country know, laws and more get blurred along the border.

Something pointed out in the opening tale “In The Shadow Of El Paso.” Being a lawman in La Sombra is a bit different than elsewhere. Carl Riggins is a transplant to the area and after three years is still considered an outsider and maybe something worse. Being in love is also bit different. Isabella is the object of our lawman’s affection. She is beautiful and she serves drinks at Tres Estrellas almost every night. It is one a few place where white and brown can get along with little trouble—most of the time. This Tuesday night violence erupts and Deputy Carl Riggins is one of the first dispatched to the scene. His arrival puts a friendship is put to the test and more in this compelling story of love, racism, fate, and more.

Following that read is a tough act, but “Jack’s Town” makes it work. Deputy Carl Riggins is dispatched to handle a possible domestic at the home of Jack and Doris Talbot. Jack is the richest man in La Sombra and probably the entire county. He owns a lot of land, a cattle ranch, and a car dealership and quite a few other things including his wife. Like a lot of very wealthy people, Jack Talbot has a bit of a reputation and not all of that is positive. Upon responding to the house Deputy Carl Riggins knows something bad has happened. It is going to be dealt with, as are consequences, one way or another.

Author notes/explanations of a couple things in the stories followed by promotional material for other books by the author bring the read to a close.

While “In The Shadow Of El Paso” was previously published in the 2007 anthology Map of Murder the following story “Jack’s Town” is a previously unpublished tale. It picks up a few months after the first story and is just as compelling as the first. Taken together the complicated stories work as book ends that consider societal issues along the border and society as a whole while working that chemistry dynamic between a man and a very beautiful woman. Along with the mysteries at work in each tale, at their core each tale is about far more than the mystery that is eventually solved. An incredible amount is at work here in this excellent read.

In The Shadow Of El Paso
Frank Zafiro
April 2012
E-Book (also available in paperback)
58 pages
$0.00 (at this time)
Material supplied by the author a very long time ago in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014

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