Heartshot (Bill Gastner Mystery, #1) By Steven F. Havill

    Added a 5th star after recent reread, primarily as lead to series, one that has me enjoying the characters with added pleasure upon visiting with them again. Badger Bill is my favorite cop.
    His love for the restaurant, Don Juan ... led me to read an informative history about the last conquistador ...
    The Last Conquistador: Juan De Onate and the Settling of the Far Southwest

    Do wish Mr Havill would add a county librarian to his cast. There are times in his tales when I'm reminded of county department head meetings and issues.
    ***
    Some spoiler type stuff from early in the book: Under-sheriff Bill Gastner was military from 1946-66. A gunnery sergeant with two tours in Korea. He joined the county sheriff's department in 1966 and this story starts 20 years later.

    page 5 - ... Hell, 210 pounds for five feet eight inches wasn't that bad. It's just that the extra pounds tended to collect immediately behind the Sam Browne belt.
    ... 'I got one (son) on the West Coast, and one down in Corpus. And a daughter in Flint, Michigan, and another one in New Britain, Connecticut.' (The children rarely appear in any of the series stories. The wife, long dead, came from an exotic locale.)

    The department's few deputies include Robert Torrez and Estelle Reyes who have become sheriff and under-sheriff as the series has progressed over the nearly 30 years since it started. 9781890208295 I'm bumping this up a star because he's a new author for me. It was a solid 3 star book with an interesting hero, a fat old cop who drives himself too hard. Good mystery & motives, neat methods, too. He must have some air time. Made me feel like I was in the cockpit during one memorable event. 9781890208295 4 Stars for Heartshot: Bill Gastnet Mystery Series Book 1(audiobook) by Steven F. Havill read by Rusty Nelson. I enjoyed this mystery. It’s a good audiobook. I like that it’s set in New Mexico. 9781890208295 Unfortunately for my book budget, this is one of the free downloads that made it to my 'must buy' list after the first book.

    The author could have been going down my personal list of 'likes' when he planned this series. Small western town as the setting, sensible representation of modern day county law enforcement and characters and attitudes that fit in this scenario. Main characters are an aging undersheriff and a younger, sensible and bright female deputy, both of whom go about the business of law enforcement with a minimum of angst, something I appreciate since it seems to be the exception in most current series.

    The plot was believable, the issues were things small town law enforcement things that are dealt with in real life now plus an interesting twist at the end.

    While this is not a edge-of-your-seat read, it moves well, with enough tension at the conclusion to make the ending satisfying. While it may not appeal to readers who like lots of action and high speed chases, it is a solidly crafted police procedural that holds up in comparison to two of my other favorite series set in the west, the Longmier series by Craig Johnson and the Gabriel DuPre series by Peter Bowen. The pace is relaxed and the characters are old friends by the time you get through the first book. 9781890208295 Recommended by a GRs friend, I was only able to get the CD version. Since I am mostly listening to audio books right now, that works okay, but finding uninterrupted time is more difficult. I enjoyed the mystery, but it took me awhile to warm up to the curmudgeon protagonist, aging Undersheriff-William C. Gastner. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and since author, Havill has written fourteen mysteries in the series, I will try another one if I can get an audio version. 9781890208295

    Posadas County, New Mexico, hugging the San Cristobal mountains separating it from Mexico, has very few mean streets. No city-slick cop shop either, but an earnest, elected Sheriff and his aging Undersheriff, William C. Gastner. Pushing sixty, and the girth of his Sam Browne uniform belt, widower Bill has no other life than in law enforcement and doesn't want one, even if he's being nudged gently towards retirement. Then big time trouble strikes.
    A car full of teens out by the lake, running from a stop by Deputy Torrez, goes
    airborne into a rocky outcrop, killing all five kids and revealing a package under the seat. A stash of cocaine this size argues someone or ones has brought big time crime to the county. Were the dead kids merely innocent dupes? Partying that July Fourth night? Dealing?
    Searching for answers, Bill deploys his department while dealing with grieving parents, one of whom starts packing a gun. Then a second explosion of violence
    fells an undercover cop whose fate is decided in a tension-filled, brilliantly described, air ambulance flight.
    Under pressure, the sheriff's department shows its mettle and pulls together to make a formidable team. Its weak spot may be Bill, whose mind is too tough to
    crumble but whose body, long mistreated, gradually succumbs to stress. Ignoring
    all advice and sense he pilots the case to a final dramatic, midair confrontation where the fate of the killer and the cop will be decided....
    The author's deep affection for southern New Mexico and his gift for vividly
    etching ordinary people make this well-plotted first novel a standout.

    About the Author: Steven F. Havill lives near Albuquerque, New Mexico,
    with his wife Kathleen, a writer and artist. A dedicated high school teacher
    of high school biology and English by day Havill earned both his B.A. and M.A.
    from the University of New Mexico. Besides writing the seven Undersheriff
    Bill Gastner mysteries, of which Heartshot is the first, Havill has also
    written three Western novels. Heartshot (Bill Gastner Mystery, #1)

    This book was such a surprise. Heartshot is the first in a series. When I first saw the cover and read the description I dismissed it as a typical Western novel. I love Robert Parker and his Spenser novels and Havill's main character is like a Southwest Spenser. The writing is clean, crisp and well done. Although you as the reader probably know the bad guy by halfway through the novel, Havill does a marvelous job of using that to increase the suspense. I found I couldn't put the book down. Not only that, the first book was free for my Amazon Kindle but then I had to read the whole series. The writing is excellent in all the ones I've read so far. The Posada County Series is also a great read. Havill's love for the New Mexico countryside shines but doesn't overwhelm the books. Havill is a writer I have just discovered but what a pleasure to read his work. 9781890208295 FREE **** An Amazon reviewer said about this book that he stopped reading after the first few paragraphs because the narrator/protagonist, Undersheriff Bill Gastner, is old and fat. I'm ashamed to say I nearly had the same reaction, but I kept reading. The reviewer's loss, my gain. I enjoyed this book.

    Gastner is the anti-hero's anti-hero. He eats too much of the wrong stuff, he smokes, and he's made no effort to build any kind of life for himself outside of his work. As the book opens, he's afraid that the newly-elected glad-handing Sheriff is going to squeeze him out of the department.

    But author Havill doesn't slide into cliche. The new Sheriff is a political animal, not a cop, but rather than try to eliminate the older, more-experienced lawman, he acknowledges his own limitations and throws all his support behind Gastner.

    I like the way Havill writes Gastner. His investigation is slow, plodding, unflappable, and inexorable, just the way you'd expect an old lawman to operate. The plot isn't slow and plodding, though. It moves right along, all the while giving us a good look at New Mexico and its history.

    Lots of memorable characters and local color and an unexpected but completely believable climax I really enjoyed.

    First of the Posadas County series. Don't miss it!
    9781890208295 He's older, put on some weight, mainly behind the belt buckle, he's a bit crusty. He's the type of guy who walks along, occasionally stubs his toe, yelling loudly, GOD-DAMN THAT HURTS!, to everyone or no one. He's set in his ways, yet he's not bad at home cooking and he's a widower, .. which explains a lot.

    The town, is small, stuck in New Mexico, the cafe food is all right, the parks' got some trees, and a fountain, grass dries out in the summer. Other than that, it's a long way to a museum and Friday night High School football is king, ..which about sum's it up.

    Kids get in trouble, some die, same with the the parents. Lucky thing is, they got this sheriff, even though he's a bit old, overweight and all that other stuff, cause, he's also got a big heart, and, he's kinda mule headed when it comes to bad guys.

    Small town sheriff makes good, he could care less, ..been there before. Tomorrow's another day, and there will be more work to be done. Screw-up? And, you're the town goat, ..been there to.

    Comfortable mystery, with a good guy, easy to like, ..like a crusty old Grand Pop. 9781890208295 I didn't start this series in the order they were written, having read Twice Buried last year. With that book I wasn't overly impressed, however Heartshot delivers like a ...well like a heartshot! Undersheriff Bill Gastner is a very likable character. Bill has compassion, is overweight, stubborn and tough. He seems to know his limitations, except when it comes to physical exertions. His fellow law officers are an assorted bunch, some very capable and a couple bumblers, all easy to relate.
    This short read, moves quickly and the mystery is good and if you pay attention, not that tough to figure.

    If you like the Walt Longmire books, you'll probably like the Bill Gastner series. Bill's a lot like
    Walt, just not quite as fit, clever or introspective. Somehow, at least in this book, Steven Havill through Gastner makes it work and work well. He shows a degree of determination that not even Longmire can touch. 9781890208295 This is the second book in the Posadas County Mystery series that I have read, even though it is the first book in the series. It was nice to get some of the back story to the characters that I missed by starting with a later book in the series.

    I liked this book a lot. It was a fast read - not because it was light, but because the plot was engaging and made me want to finish the book quickly. The characters are well thought out and complex enough to make them real to the reader. The plot to this book was also sufficiently non-transparent enough so that the reader wouldn't know the answer to the mystery too soon. I actually didn't have any clue until I was almost finished with the book.

    I would definitely recommend this book to my friends that enjoy mysteries. It's also good for those that like books set in small towns. I plan on continuing to read this series of novels. 9781890208295

    Steven F. Havill ☆ 4 characters

    Heartshot