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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

Rage Against the Dying
By Becky Masterman. Minotaur Books. 307 pp. $24.99.
Masterman gets the Tucson, and Southern Arizona, setting just right as her female narrator, a retired FBI agent and former undercover operative, cannot resist the chance to identify the serial killer who eluded her while she was still on active duty. As good as police procedurals get! []
So, who’d have thought an acquisitions editor for medical and forensics’ examiners’ textbooks could write a successful thriller on her first try? On a whim (and to keep her retired husband busy), Tucsonan Masterman and said husband each pounded out a novel within a month. The character she created, a retired female FBI agent with attitude, and martial—but few domestic—arts, is called back into service to help solve a serial rapist/murderer case. She puts herself in danger and lies about it to keep peace at home, but escalating threats and perpetuating lies threaten her, others, and her marriage. With an engaging voice (the character’s, in first person), lean, disciplined prose; and unflagging action, it’s an impressive debut. []

Railroad Avenue
By Phyllis de la Garza. Silk Label Books. 205 pp. $14.99.
Author of more than a dozen books set in and around Willcox in southeastern Arizona where she lives, de la Garza is a fine storyteller. Her heros are often heroines (you know what I mean), as here--at the turn of the 20th century, who face stiff challenges in a world of tough, usually mean men. Railroad Avenue runs through the heart of Willcox a town divided by the train tracks that are the very reason for the avenue’s, and the town’s, existence. An enjoyable story with lots of local color and some real historical figures. []

Reflections of Fran Stone
By David E. Bates. Logozon Publishing, LLC. 373 pp. $15.99.

Right Side of Wrong, The: A Red River Mystery
By Reavis Z. Wortham. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pp. $14.95.

Rules of Wolfe, The: A Border Noir
By James Carlos Blake. Mysterious Press. 240 pp. $17.92.
Top Pick
Readers who like mysteries that have a good “sense of place” will applaud Blake’s handling of scenes that range across the border from Mexico into Texas. But fans of action will be equally pleased as the graphic scenes of mayhem, high-speed auto chases, and a fast-moving plot keep us turning the pages at a rapid clip. []
Master creator of the sympathetic outlaw, James Carlos Blake has cast another good bad boy in this “border noir.” When nineteen-year-old Eddie Gato Wolfe, a hot-headed and ambitious junior member of the Texas Wolfe crime family, tries to jump the line to promotion by joining a Mexican cartel in Sonora, he manages to defend the wrong girl, and the two have to flee north. The cartel pulls out all the stops to capture them, so Eddie and the girl are forced on foot into the desert. Blake’s narrative is drum tight: the action never flags, his signature violence is creative (consider the efficacy of punishing tippling employees by preserving them naked—and dead-- in a glass-topped vat of rum), and he includes the harsh realities of the undocumented attempting to trek across the border. A killer read. []

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