Perfect Opportunity

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Book 26 of A Posadas County Mystery
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Pub Date 05 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024

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Octogenarian former sheriff Bill Gastner and Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman investigate a puzzling double murder in this twisty, page-turning instalment in the critically acclaimed Posadas County mystery series

"If you haven't yet discovered these wonderful mysteries, you are in for a treat!" Anne Hillerman, New York Times bestselling author

The morning after his eighty-seventh birthday bash, former Posadas County sheriff Bill Gastner drives past a couple of vehicles stopped on the highway shoulder. It's not an unusual sight: a sheriff's patrol unit, emergency lights ablaze, pulled in behind a pickup truck. The female deputy hasn't radioed for backup. But there's something about the scene that makes him feel uneasy.

The next day, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman is called to a rather more dramatic and disturbing roadside scene, with the same truck the star of the show. But this time, its occupant is in no fit state to talk - his dead body stabbed through the chest with a Ka-Bar, a second corpse in the ditch beside the car.

What happened to the two men? And what were the dead man and the deputy discussing in the quiet of pre-dawn the previous day?

The truth is more twisty and complex than even Estelle and her long-standing friend and former colleague Bill are ready for, and it will take all their combined years of experience to untangle the sorry tale and ensure justice is served.

Fans of CJ Box, Anne Hillerman and Terry Shames will love this thrilling, small-town Western mystery set in New Mexico, as will readers who love strong female protagonists and retired sleuthing heroes.

Octogenarian former sheriff Bill Gastner and Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman investigate a puzzling double murder in this twisty, page-turning instalment in the critically acclaimed Posadas County...

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Average rating from 13 members

Featured Reviews

It is with pleasure I sit down and read the books about Posadas County by Steven F. Havill. It all started with sheriff Bill Gastner a long time ago and then it evolved to be mostly about undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman. Now retired Bill has not had a big part in the sereis but he sure is back in Perfect Oppertunity. He is out roaming the countryside either in his pick up or in his cross country wheel chair. This is a great example of the wonderful writing of this author and the characters and setting is marvellous. The crimes in this series span all kinds you can think of and then some. If you like small town problem solvers and rural setting this is for you. I have read every single book in this series and not once have they let me down. I must thank Severn House and Netgalley for letting me read this advance copy of a wonderful book.

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Another solid mystery in the long-running series. When two people are found dead by the side of the road, it initially appears that they killed each other. But it turns out to be not that simple. And when retired undersheriff Bill Gastner makes a discovery after a mishaps with his backcountry wheelchair on one of his late night rambles, things get dangerous. As always, the rural New Mexico landscape is one of the stars of the show.

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I was fortunate enough to be approved to see an advance review copy of the 26th title in the Posadas County mystery series. Perfect Opportunity by Steven F. Havill will be released by Severn House on 5 March 2024. This is the first in the series to be issued by Severn House. The first 25 titles were published by Poisoned Pen Press. I suppose with the change in ownership and management that PPP decided not to renew Havill’s contract. I am happy that someone gave Havill a new one, as these books are among my long-running favorites, an automatic buy.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, and many are not as this very fine series tends to fly under the radar, Posadas County is a fictional rural county in New Mexico on the border of the United States and Mexico. The border tends to be somewhat porous there, with residents of both countries moving back and forth to visit relatives and conduct business. The series started in 1991 with Undersheriff Bill Gastner as the lead investigator supported by a cast of well-defined secondary characters. Gastner is about 60 years old, widowed, grown children in other parts of the country. His life is his job and it takes all of his time, literally, as he is a chronic insomniac who prowls the roads of his county at night when most people are sleeping.
Havill decided early to let his characters age, perhaps not in real time, but close to it. By Book 12 Gastner retired and some of the secondary characters took over the spotlight. Gastner is still around though and becomes involved in each case, which is great because he is the linchpin of the series. The sheriff’s department is located in the county seat of Posadas, a small town vividly described in the books and integral to the story line, so much that when Havill took the action out of its usual environs in Book 25, I was sorely disappointed.
I was pleased to see that the latest book is back in Posadas County with all of its usual inhabitants. Gastner has just celebrated his 87th birthday with a lot of food and even more friends. He is using a walker or a motorized scooter to get around but he still manages to roam his county.
The sheriff’s office is called to an isolated road one morning to investigate the scene of a dual homicide. One man is shot to death and one man is stabbed to death. The obvious conclusion is that each killed the other but how? Each wound would have been instantly or nearly instantly fatal, so which one was second? In addition to this forensic puzzle, serious sabotage to the braces holding up a heavily used bridge was accidentally discovered. Thankful that a tragedy had been averted, the sheriff’s office still had to learn who had been so irresponsible.
Havill does not pull punches in his plots. He recognizes that people often have base motives and frequently act on them, sometimes resulting in murder. The congenial relationships of the primary characters can lull the reader into expecting a happy ending and that is rarely the case for everyone. Someone goes down for the crime in every book, and the confrontation can be unexpectedly grim.
Another excellent book in a consistently good series. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Readers unfamiliar with the denizens of Posadas County should start with some of the early books, as later ones build on them. Too, the relationships of the characters grow and change over time. Readers already on the Posadas County bandwagon are in for a treat with this latest installment. Pre-order it and mark the release date on your calendar!

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Steven Havill delivers another exciting Posadas County mystery. Retired Sheriff Bill Gastner is back in action helping Undersheriff Guzman solve two deaths as well as a serious sabotage situation at Miles Waddell’s Night Zone. As always, the character develop and location descriptions are well done. As with any great series, it is fun to read the books from the beginning, but this one holds up well as a stand alone. Thoroughly enjoyable read that filled a cold February Saturday nicely!

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Book #26 in the Posadas County mysteries. I first started this series with book #23 without realizing it was a series. I so loved LIES COME EASY, that I immediately read the whole series and follow Steven Havill to make sure I get each new title as soon as I can. The series is set in a small community in New Mexico within walking distance of the border with Mexico. The cast of characters centers around the Posados County Sheriff's office and the colorful population. Bill Gastner is the 87 yr old retired Sheriff who makes an appearance in book 26, just as he has since book #1. Estelle Reyes-Guzman is the current under Sheriff. She has worked in the Sheriff's office since her rookie days. The cast has grown and matured as each series adds to the history of this desert area. Their lives and times add so much to each story as they work together to solve crimes that could only happen in an area so far from everywhere else. This series is one of my favorites.
In PERFECT OPPORTUNITY, the sheriff's office faces several crimes that do not seem to be connected but in an area such as this one, the history will once more provide clues and motives to connect, then solve the crimes. Steven Havill writes excellent mystery/thriller/police procedural stories that include a return visit with characters that you'll remember long after the solve has surprised you.

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There is nothing better on a gloomy winter day than a new Steven Havill book to read and Perfect Opportunity carries on the tradition. Of course, his books are great on any day. Each story carries on the lives of past, present and future law enforcement officers in Posadas County, New Mexico and their extended families and friends. With mysteries to solve and bad guys to chase, each book makes one wish for the next one to be waiting!

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Given this is the latest in a long-running series, it's especially likely to be enjoyed by those who have followed along. I'm new to it, and at first the multiple characters (some of whom don't seem terribly integral to the story) were hard to sort out. But they are distinctively written enough that they became clear before long.

The police in Posadas County, New Mexico have a mystery on their hands: two dead bodies in and beside a truck along the highway. The one in the truck has been stabbed in the chest, the one who fell out of the passenger side has been shot. But not everything adds up, so the open-and-shut case stays open. It may have something to do with a crew laying barbed wire fences up the road, or maybe it's related to the astronomical site on the mesa. And there's something odd about an encounter between one of the deputies and the dead man, stopped earlier when his truck had trouble.

The mystery is nicely plotted, the setting is intriguing, and I enjoyed the characters. No wonder this series keeps plugging along.

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Perfect Opportunity by Steven F. Havill, part of the Posadas County police procedural series set in New Mexico. I have read almost every book in this series and enjoy spending time with the two main characters, retired sheriff Bill Gastner and the current undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman. This book begins with Bill celebrating his 87th birthday, so he has understandably slowed down from the start of this series. I used to enjoy the books in which Bill and Estelle solved cases together and the way their working relationship became a close friendship with Bill going on to become the godfather to both of Estelle's sons.

I love this series, but must admit this is not my favorite. Large portions of the plot about two men being killed at the side of the road moved slowly and my attention wandered. On the positive side, Bill isn't just on the sidelines in this book. With the help of his new all-terrain wheelchair, Bill is able to help on the case and discovers something important that changes the direction of the investigation.

If a police procedural with characters you grow to care about and a small desert town that comes to life sounds like something you would like, then I would recommend reading one of the earlier books in this series. On the other hand, returning fans of the series will enjoy catching up with Bill, Estelle and her family, and some of the other regulars such as another retired sheriff Bobby Torrez who steps in to help with ballistics analysis. I would rate this book 3.75 stars.

I received an advance copy of this ebook at no cost from NetGalley and Severn House, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.

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I started reading Steven Havill’s books about a year after the first in this series came out, and I have never been disappointed. And I was certainly NOT disappointed with this one.
Former Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner is out on one of his middle-of-the-night neighborhood cruises when he passes a pai of vehicles on the side of the road. What follows this chance encounter is a wonderful study of place, character, frustrations, detail, and procedure. Under sheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman asks the right questions, collects the details and follows the evidence as local characters interact with each other and with their environment as best as they can. As always, the landscape is a character in itself, with much of the story playing out on two-tracks, along train trestles and along fence lines.
I love these characters and the stories that they create. I hope we get ten or twelve more in the years to come.
Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book.

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This is a very long series but this the first book I read and was curious as the blurb seemed intriguing.
It's a book you will surely love if you love the books set in the South-West of the USA.
Well developed and interesting characters, a twisty and gripping plot.
I'm sure I missed some details but there's enought backstory to understand what's happening.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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