|Concrete Desert (2001) [Novel]|
by Jon Talton
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Series: David Mapstone
(From the publisher):
In this intriguing first novel, Jon Talton plunges his protagonist, David Mapstone, into a Sun Belt metropolis where corruption, betrayal, and murder are lurking just beyond the glow of toney resorts and dramatic desert sunsets.
Having recently lost his job as a history professor, Mapstone returns to his boyhood home of Phoenix, Arizona, but finds the Southwest city he knew dramatically changed. It's now a haven for wealthy retirees and a seasonal retreat for West Coast "sophisticates." To Mapstone, who has a strong personal feeling for the area's history, it seems a foreign place. There remain, however, pockets of his earlier life, some welcome, some not. Mapstone eagerly accepts a temporary job from his old friend Maricopa County Chief Deputy Mike Peralta, who asks him to look into still-open cases that have languished for years in the department's filing cabinets and see if he can close any.
A less welcome voice from the past is the college sweetheart who appears at his door one evening. True to his memory of her, she is there because she wants something - never mind that she abruptly abandoned him twenty years ago for a wealthier lover. Now her sister is missing. Will Mapstone look for her? Although Mapstone's search for the missing woman is quickly resolved when her body is discovered in the desert, he is stunned to find an echo of the past in the grisly discovery: The dead sister has been found in circumstances identical to those of a sensational forty-year-old unsolved murder he is researching for Peralta.
Mapstone's dogged investigation of both murders bridges the chasm of clashing cultures, meshing his own long-ago memories and the stories from some of the city's old inhabitants with the tangled doings of newcomers and their acolytes, young women eager to share the lifestyle of tainted wealth, drugs and careless violence.
To read Concrete Desert is to become completely engrossed in a highly unusual mystery that is further enriched by the author's perspective on the way America is changing.
Original title: Concrete Desert
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Detective Story and Detectives→ Police Procedural