Potter Shandra Higheagle is riding across her Arizona ranch, getting back to basics after being gone from the land she loves for two weeks to teach a class and exhibit her work at an art show in New Mexico. She stumbles across a disemboweled body, launching another murder investigation. Visions from her dead grandmother help Shandra and Ryan, her personal deputy sheriff, solve the murder of the extremely unpleasant neighbor who ran illegal exotic game hunts on his ranch.
On the minus side: the copy-editing could have been tighter with this one (at one point, Shandra refers to the “Apache Jicarillo Reservation,” but the proper name is “Jicarilla Apache Reservation”; in another location, a character says “Whose your doctor …” among other hiccups). I also struggled with the switch between the description of a character’s actions and thoughts – “He’d felt Red’s animosity and figured Randal was fooling around with other women. But the niece? He hadn’t seen that. I’ll go back and interview the nice alone and see if the incident was before or after Mrs. Randal threatened her husband.” I had to keep stopping to figure out what was happening and would have preferred the characters thoughts to be set off in some fashion (maybe with italics?) from the actions. The hiccups took me out of the story and frustrated me, diminishing my enjoyment of the book.
On the plus side: Interesting plot about illegal big game hunting. Good description of Shandra’s pottery making. Likeable characters, even the supporting ones. While this series still falls in the “romance dressed up in mystery clothing” category for me, the mystery portions are enough to hold my attention, and I really do like the relationship between Shandra and Ryan – the mix of cultures and their respect jobs, how they obviously care for each other and are taking time to get to know one another. I also like that Ryan doesn’t poo-pooh Shandra’s dreams regarding the case, and that he respects her opinions and insights.
This is book three in an eight book series. Even though I got irritated with the mechanical problems of the book, I think I will read more. I’m curious to see how the relationship between Shandra and Ryan progresses, and what happens with some of the other characters.