It takes the body a long time to heal when you nearly die. For Undersheriff Estelle Reyes–Guzman, the violence that nearly killed her happened over a year ago and she still isn’t back to normal. She is working again, but she feels it from time to time in ways she never felt it before. The fatality on Regal Pass not only reminds her of how fragile life is but how her body is still not healed.


Psychologically, she isn’t healed either. Something the dead man doesn’t care about as he lays crumpled in the wreckage of his truck. Hundreds of feet down the mountainside the wreckage is difficult to get to in daylight and late at night with mist and cold closing in the San Cristobal Mountains it is extremely dangerous. Obviously the man is dead and the wreckage has been down the cliff strewn among the rocks and boulders for while.


But, somebody else has been there. It isn’t just the fact that various identifying items that should be in the truck aren’t there in the shattered hulk or strewn around the area. Amidst the beer cans and debris of what is left of the truck, the victim has part of a shoe print on his hand. Somebody stepped on his hand. Since it wasn’t any of the rescuers it means it was either a witness or a murderer.


The latest in the series finds Estelle juggling issues with her family, a national reporter determined to write a profile of her for a woman’s magazine, and a murder. The conflict between her role as a parent and her job continues as well as a growing realization that her family is moving towards a different future that may or may not be what she ever wanted. That concept which is growing stronger in every book since Bill Gastner was eased off the main stage is a huge theme here along with the idea that the border, like the vein of life, is as thin ribbon easily crossed by good and evil alike.


Once again, Steven F. Havill brings Posadas County and its people to like in a series that fundamentally changed several novels ago. While it hasn’t been the same since Bill Gastner was moved to the role of a secondary character, Estelle Guezman more than holds her own in this novel that delivers a strong storyline, plenty of action, and depth to the read. This simply might be the best book he has written since the switch in the series and I suspect it will be nominated for many awards.


The Fourth Time Is Murder: A Posadas County Mystery

Steven F. Havill

Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Minotaur)

November 2008

ISBN# 0-312-38063-1


311 Pages



This material was received from the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


Be Sociable, Share!