High Country Nocturne: A David Mapstone Mystery by Jon Talton (Poisoned Pen Press, $14.95, 326 pages)
“Well my heart’s in the highlands… I’m gonna go there when I feel good enough to go.” Bob Dylan, “Highlands”
In John Talton’s High Country Nocturne, Mike Peralta, a former sheriff, is implicated in a diamond heist. David Mapstone, a private investigator and former business partner of Peralta, becomes embroiled in a classic good guy-bad guy morality tale; however, for the greater part of the novel one can be excused for being unclear in terms of who the actual good and bad guys are.
When it comes to “Strawberry Death,” there is no ambiguity. She is an evil sociopath who sends Mapstone’s wife, Lindsey, to the brink of mortality. The FBI is involved and Mapstone becomes “re-deputized,” but the story is a manhunt to avenge Lindsey’s perpetrator, solve the mystery of who is behind the diamond smuggling, and navigate Mapstone’s conscience so that he can restore and repair relationships with those who matter in his life.
For those familiar with the geography of Arizona, there is just enough in the book to cultivate some regional interest.
Talton has written 11 novels. High Country is above average in most areas: dialogue, voice, storytelling, character development, intrigue, etc. It will likely be an enjoyable read for most fans of the genre. The tale began with great potential but falls somewhat short of being a truly excellent piece of writing.
A review copy was received from the publisher.
Dave Moyer is an education administrator and is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.